HOOPESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — After an out-of-state patient went to the ER at Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center with his two dogs in the car, the hospital and a local animal shelter showed just how big a community’s heart can be in a small town.
“The patient is probably going to need to be transferred for acute care, but he was stable, and my concern was the two dogs,” said Reilly Stebbins, R.N.
What started as a routine patient care situation turned into one that Stebbins will never forget. She said it’s not uncommon for patients to come to the emergency room with their pets.
“There are people that’ll be like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to deal with this. I don’t.’ And, you know, nursing is a hard job anyway. You don’t get a lot of downtime,” said Amy Buttram, Hoopeston Animal Rescue Team Volunteer Coordinator.
But for Stebbins, this situation was different.
“We lost our dog a week before, and the red heeler that I’m sure a lot of people have seen on social media, looked just like our dog. But we had a blue heeler,” Stebbins said.
She took it as a sign. Stebbins did round-the-hour checkups on her patient inside, as well as her four-legged patients outside.
“I was thinking in my head, ‘What would I do or what sort of care would I want if I was somewhere that I’m not from?’ I had no family members around, and those really were my only family members,” Stebbins said.
While the hospital staff was doing their part, the Hoopeston Animal Rescue Team was gearing up to do theirs.
“By the end of the night, I think we got the entire group of volunteers who had contacted everyone that they knew that possibly had an apartment or an Airbnb or VRBO, any type of rental that they may have,” Buttram said.
Within hours, HART volunteers raised money and booked a motel room for the night, bought the family dinner, and gave a gas card and gift card for breakfast.
“They drove hours away,” Stebbins said. “They were going to initially come get their dogs, but luckily, they could bring home the dad.”
Buttram said she hopes the family left Hoopeston with a lasting impression.
“You know, it really shows a lot to our community and what we can do when we work together,” Buttram said.
Stebbins said she’s considering adopting a new dog from the rescue after seeing how caring they were.