Hockey binds provider, patient
That Sunday afternoon in the emergency department at Highlands Ranch Hospital, Brady Landgren was drawn to the room where Joan Roethlisberger was being cared for.
Every now and then, Landgren would hear a cheer coming from Joan and her daughter, Erin, who had accompanied her to the emergency room.
The Colorado Avalanche were in Game 4 against the St. Louis Blues during the first round of the playoffs and Joan and her daughter were engrossed in the hockey game – a blissful distraction from Joan’s cancer.
“I could tell she felt ’really puny,’ Landgren said, and yet Joan and her daughter seemed to still find a way to enjoy the moment and cheer for the Avs.
Joan said she immediately “felt at ease’’ with Landgren. She said he was “so nice and thorough.’’
Landgren appreciated Joan’s spirit.
“Even with as much discomfort as she was in and the extent of her disease, I was struck that she was able to still have a very positive outlook – she was all smiles,’’ Landgren said.
When he talked to her about her care, she and Erin “were trying to sneak glances away to see how things were going in the game,’’ he said.
By the time Joan was ready to leave, the number of patients in the emergency department had dwindled. With 10 minutes left in the game, Landgren, a diehard Avs fan himself, sat down with Joan and Erin and watched the rest of the game. They cheered as the Avs clinched the first round of the playoffs.
Landgren recommended Joan have a follow-up visit at the CARES Clinic, which was scheduled on Tuesday. That day, Landgren happened to be working at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. One of his colleagues let him know Joan was in the house, so he went to see her.
“I asked her if she was going to be able to go to any of the games in the upcoming playoff run and her reply was more of a short, ‘no, I don’t think so.’
“We said our good-byes and everything, and as soon as she left, I knew that I had to get in touch with either the Avalanche or Kroenke Sports Charities to see what I could do for her,’’ Landgren said.
The Avs emailed right back and said they’d be in touch. Then, the Avs got in touch with Bill Smith, a manager on UCHealth’s marketing team who collaborates on a UCHealth-Avalanche partnership.
When Joan got a phone call asking if she would like to go to a playoff game in Denver at the Ball Arena, she was overjoyed.
“I was blown away – just blown away,’’ Joan said.
Joan and Erin went to the June 2 game and the Avs beat the Las Vegas Golden Knights in overtime.
“It was exciting. The arena was full of energy and we got a little bag of Avs swag when we were there. That was a real VIP experience for sure,’’ Erin said.
Meeting Landgren and then having him reach out to the Avs for tickets meant the world to Joan and Erin.
“The whole thing about him coming to see Mom when she was at the hospital (UCH), for him to think of Mom and to come and visit her, it made her feel like more than just a customer, more than just a patient, you know,’’ Erin said.
Landgren said he just “connected instantaneously’’ with Joan and Erin. Hockey, he said, gave them a chance to connect about something other than Joan’s illness.
“We just lost track of the medical-ness of what we were doing,’’ he said. “No one wants to be in the hospital, but we had something that brought us that extra connection. We all have our things that stoke our fires, and when I heard she wasn’t going to go to the game, I knew that we had to do something else.’’