As a 62-year-old self-employed flooring contractor, Richard Bath knew about aches and pains. Since 2016 a yearly cortisone shot had usually done the trick to help alleviate his hip pain. But when his third one wasn’t helpful, combined with consistent fatigue and bouts of profuse sweating, he and his then fiancé, Carrie, visited Albrecht Free Clinic, a partner of Froedtert West Bend Hospital, to get checked out.
Thanks to volunteered time from health care providers, nurses and others, the Albrecht Free Clinic has provided free medical and dental care to uninsured and underinsured Washington County residents since 1996. The partnership with Froedtert West Bend Hospital also allows the clinic to offer diagnostic lab testing and other donated clinical services.
Richard was self-employed and he lacked insurance so he qualified to be seen at the clinic for his hip pain. During that visit in early 2019, he was directed to Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee to receive an abdominal X-ray, free of charge thanks to the partnership between the clinic and the Froedtert & MCW health network.
The X-ray results were alarming. Doctors at Froedtert Hospital found a nearly six-centimeter-wide abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), which is a blood-filled bulge in the aorta — the main vessel that delivers blood to the body. If left untreated, this bulge could rupture and cause severe pain, excessive internal bleeding, or death. Richard was told he needed surgery as soon as possible and that if it wasn’t operated on soon, there would be a 25% chance of having it burst, which may be fatal. He immediately traveled to Froedtert Hospital where he received a CT scan and scheduled his procedure. Ten days later, Richard underwent successful minimally invasive endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) surgery at Froedtert Hospital.
“I really do owe the health network my life,” said Richard. “When I was told I had a good possibility of dying, I knew this wasn’t something that should be messed around with.”