Bahta Wibshet arrived at UCHealth Memorial Hospital with nothing – and left on Tuesday morning with a heart filled with gratitude.
When his truck burned after a crash in Kiowa County, Wibshet arrived at Memorial with a broken leg. Everything he had – including his identification – was lost in the fire.
An immigrant from Ethiopia who moved to Texas for a truck driving job, Wibshet has no family in the United States. Without identification, he could not board a commercial flight back to Texas, and that’s when a team from Memorial Hospital went out of their way to help.
“I felt very lonely, but the nurses are very friendly, and I like them all very much,’’ Wibshet said. “I am happy.’’
Courtney Hoffbauer, a nurse manager on Memorial’s orthopedic unit, arranged transportation through Angel Flight West, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that arranges free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions and other compelling needs.
On Tuesday, Hoffbauer borrowed a hospital van used to transport rehabilitation patients on outings, and drove Wibshet to the Colorado Springs Airport to catch a flight back to Texas.
For the 11 days that Wibshet was in the hospital, staff rallied around the 36-year-old who regularly sends money to Ethiopia to help his family. He has been in the U.S. since 2010, but his wife has not been able to join him.
“Everyone working in this hospital – everyone does make me strong, and make me able to stand by myself,’’ he said. “They be everything for me.’’
The wife of an Ethiopian member of the hospital’s housekeeping staff made homemade Ethiopian food so that Wibshet could feel a little more comfortable while in the hospital.
“He had us try the food – he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, taste some! And kind of explain what’s in the food, how it’s made and how you are supposed to eat it,’’ said Laura Anderson, a nurse. “Just to have that piece of home and to have someone reaching out and giving him the food that reminds him of home and speaking the language that reminds him of home, I’m sure is cool.’’
The kind gestures were more than appreciated by Wibshet.
“They gave to me love,’’ he said.