Soldiers thank Sanford ER doc with surprise recognition

Doctor helped to save 26-year-old who came in with multiple-organ failure

Soldiers thank Sanford ER doc with surprise recognition

A busy emergency room in Sioux Falls is filling up even faster for a special announcement.

“We’re out here today to recognize Dr. Beth Lapka for the lifesaving care and quick decision making that she made in helping the spouse of one of my recruiters,” Army Capt. Jay Campbell said.

Surprising Dr. Lapka with a plaque, Campbell and Staff Sgt. Henry George are saying thank you for a job, under intense circumstances, well done.

“It saved my wife’s life,” George said. “We were probably only two, three hours away from losing her. Without all that care that we received here, I wouldn’t have her here today. We’re extremely grateful.”

‘She was really, really ill’

George’s wife Shelby presented at the E.R. back in June with acute liver and kidney failure as well as septic shock.

“An extraordinary meeting of one patient with a lot of resources right at the right moment. When she arrived in our E.R., it was obvious she was really, really ill,” Dr. Lapka said.

George added, “none of us could have thought at 26 that this was going to happen. My wife is in phenomenal shape. She works an extremely physical job. So, it was really surprising to see how quickly it went.”

Shelby would eventually be diagnosed with secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare disease causing her body to shut down. Thankfully, she’s on the road to recovery.

“I am just ecstatic,” Dr. Lapka said about the outcome. “I am so pleased because I was afraid.”

‘An extraordinary place’

Helping the George family on their care journey is part of why Dr. Lapka keeps coming back to work.

“This is quite honestly an extraordinary place and probably why I have been here for 21 years and 50 weeks because of the resources we have here,” Dr. Lapka said.

Resources that can bring healing and hope.

“I’m thankful that we were able to give back and I’m thankful that she was here that day,” George said.

Campbell added, “She’s here on the ground doing lifesaving work every day.”

“It’s not just appreciation from us for this one instance. It’s for what she does every day and what her team does every day. It’s all a team sport.”

Caught off guard by the moment, Dr. Lapka is walking away with renewed passion.

“It’s just nice to be recognized even if you don’t always think you need it,” Dr. Lapka said through tears.

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Emergency Medicine, People & Culture, Physicians and APPs, Sanford Stories, Sioux Falls, Veterans