A Letter of Appreciation

By: Aaron “Russell” Knapp

After an unexpected open-heart procedure, a patient at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center penned the following letter of appreciation to the physicians and staff who saved his life.

I have a story about my visit to your hospital that I strongly feel needs to be shared, and also a list of your staff members that seriously deserve recognition for going to, what I consider, above and beyond (even though they probably just consider it another day at the office).

This amazing experience started right at two months ago, with a last-minute open-heart procedure that I was not expecting.  As you can imagine, this was the scariest and most vulnerable time in my life.  Thanks to your amazing staff, I pulled through everything with a smile on my face, and a heart now full of gratitude to each of them, including the doctors.

My first amazing experience (yes, there were many) began with Dana Clark, from the rehab center.  She was there as a surgical educator informing me of what to expect before and after surgery.  She was amazingly detailed, and she did a wonderful job of answering all of my questions with compassion and understanding in her voice.  She single-handedly took my pre-surgery stress level from ten down to a one.

Next was Collin Reed in the CV-ICU.  I remember waking up for the first time after surgery with the breathing tube in my mouth, and I was not dealing with it well at all.  I was stressed, freaking out, flailing my hands and feet, and also in tears while restrained to the bed (which was quite a comfortable bed, by the way). Collin sat next to me explaining how well the surgery went, how well I was doing, and he assured me everything was working fine with the breathing tube.  He did so with compassion and kindness in his voice, all while literally wiping the tears from my face for about thirty minutes straight.    

From there I was moved pretty quickly to the intermediate care unit, and had the pleasure of meeting many other amazing nurses.  From Michelle Witte, Clarissa Garcia, Veronica Villafranco, Bryan West, Eric Hess, to the charge nurse Shelly Rossignol.  Each of these team members made me feel like their top priority.  I tried my best not to be a pain, but without meaning to, I probably was. 

Each of those wonderful nurses listed above were there for me 110 percent of the time I needed them.  They each came in the room with caring, sincere, and uplifting smiles on their faces.  They always had kind words to say to me to help lift my spirits, and I will never forget that.

What I hope each of your caring staff understands is that everything they do for patients (from the small stuff to the large stuff) is more appreciated than they realize.  I remember the wiping of my tears from Collin, the compassionate nature of Dana, nonstop encouragement from Shelly, and the laughs with Bryan and Eric when I needed them.  I remember the friendly smiles of Clarissa, Veronica, and the caring nature from Michelle (of course, all of those things are interchangeable with each of them).  I have a funny feeling they don’t hear this enough, but it’s very true.  Your nurses truly set the bar for what amazing health care looks like. 

So thank you, to the best hospital staff in Texas.  


  1. Awesome job MHH Woodlands team! So great to hear how much you do every day REALLY does make a difference to our patients.

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