Emergency Surgery

Debi Hofferber

Debi Hofferber

Nobody plans a trip to the emergency room.

But when the need arises, everyone wants an emergency room that delivers top quality treatment with attentive care in timely fashion.

At KVH Hospital, seeing is believing. Just ask Cle Elum’s Debi Hofferber.

The 57-year-old Hofferber lived in Canada until she and her husband Rick met online, clicked over a “coffee date” in Bellingham, and fell in love. She’s no stranger to hospital emergency rooms and years of dealing with the Canadian health care system left her jaded. Emergency rooms were crowded. Wait times were often long. When Hofferber’s then 14-year-old daughter Shawna was hit by a car, breaking both legs, she waited more than seven and a half hours for surgery.  “I’d never had a good experience in an emergency room,” Hoffeber says.

Until now.

Flash back to Oct. 12, 2013. Hofferber, recently returned from a visit to Virginia Beach, woke up with what she thought might be stomach flu. Time passed. Her discomfort didn’t.

That evening, her husband Rick, a retired Boeing business manager, convinced her to go the KVH Urgent Care clinic in Cle Elum. A provider, suspecting appendicitis, ran tests. Results were negative. Her temperature was normal.

He sent her home with pills to ease her symptoms – but her pain mounted.

Soon, Hofferber knew she was in trouble. 

Rick offered to drive her to the west side. She demurred. “As bad as I feel,” she said, “take me to Ellensburg. It’s closer.”

They arrived at the Emergency Department just before midnight. A registration clerk quickly assessed the situation, arranged for Rick to fill out paperwork and had Hofferber immediately escorted to an exam room. Nurse Doreen Mohn examined her and hooked up an IV. Dr. Matthew Seaman, an ER physician, examined her, told her he believed she had appendicitis and ordered pain medication. A CT scan confirmed his diagnosis. 

Dr. Frank Smith, a general surgeon, arrived.  “He’s upbeat and funny and just a wonderful man who puts you at ease,” Hofferber says. “He explained everything perfectly.” Four days after her appendectomy, she was home – and sharing her experience.

“I was shocked to find that kind of care in this little hospital in this little town,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it. Boom! I got in right away. The hospital is so modern. Everybody was so nice.  The nurse was always with me. I’ve been in Canadian hospitals. We’re talking night and day here.”

On a scale of one-to-ten, her experience was “definitely a ten,” she says. “I don’t ever want to have to go back to a hospital again. But if I do, I want to go to this one.”