When Jeff Kloster returned to the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, things got a bit emotional.
Kloster—who drove up from his home in Omaha—reunited with Sanford nurse Alicia Pederson. Pederson helped care for Kloster after he crashed his single engine Cessna near the West Fargo Municipal Airport in August 2021.
“I lost about seven days of amnesia starting right before I tried to land. So the last thing I remember is seeing the airport out the right air front screen of the window,” said Kloster. “It was a great flight coming up. Everything leading up to that was great and then it goes away.”
Kloster made the rounds, visiting his crash site, as well as his nurses and the room that he stayed in during those first weeks after his accident. The crash shattered his foot and ankle, broke his leg, sent bone fragments near his spine and caused damage to his face as well.
Taking care of each other
Despite all of those injuries though, Kloster found himself mentoring his young nurse while she helped him recover. She was new on the job, and considered quitting.
“I just remember him telling me like, ‘You are a wonderful nurse and you’re a wonderful person and you deserve nothing but the best.’ I left the room in tears,” said Pederson. “No one had really said that to me as a patient before.”
These two were truly caring for each other.
“My mom was a nurse, so I’ve always had a sympathetic ear and an affinity for nurses,” said Kloster. “I just think they’re great human beings. To get to talk to somebody and say, ‘What you’re doing is still good. It’s still important. Keep up the good fight.’ Being able to message that in a way that actually was received well was super neat.”
After his stay at Sanford, Kloster was transferred to a hospital near his home in Nebraska. But Pederson’s thoughts kept returning to her patient.
“I kept thinking, ‘I’m never gonna see this guy again, and I just want him to know that I’m still thinking about him and that I hope that he makes a full recovery,’” Pederson said.
“She sent me a letter when I got home that said, ‘I want to thank you because when you were here I was considering quitting nursing, but your encouragement has led me to stay. I apologize for the water spots on the page. Those are my tears,’” said Kloster.
They weren’t the last tears shared between these two either. When they reunited, there were tears of joy. And when Kloster came back to Fargo, he made sure to not only give his caregiver a hug, but he also honored her with a surprise award as well.
Kloster continues his recovery, and he says he plans to get back in the cockpit in the near future. Meanwhile, Pederson is still at Sanford Health, taking the lessons she learned from Kloster and passing them along to her other patients.
“He’s somebody who inspires me every single day to take care of my patients the best way that I can. And I’m forever thankful for that,” said Pederson.
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