‘They be everything for me’

April 25, 2017
This is a picture of Bahta Wibshet, patient at UCHealth Memorial Hospital.
Bahta Wibshet, an immigrant from Ethiopia, had no way to get back to his home in Texas — until nurses at UCHealth Memorial Hospital went above and beyond.

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.’’

A nurse helps a patient board an airplane.
Courtney Hoffbauer, UCHealth Memorial Hospital nurse manager, helps patient Bahta Wibshet board a plane for Texas.

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.’’

Bahta Wibshet receives care from a nurse at UCHealth Memorial Hospital.
Bahta Wibshet, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said he’s grateful to staff at Memorial Hospital for helping him get back on his feet — and back home.

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.


About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.