Susan Black's Story

Today, Susan Black of Michigan is a proud supporter of National Jewish Health, but it wasn’t long ago that she didn’t know a thing about the institution. Fortunately, through a roundabout set of circumstances, Susan discovered the place that would give her answers when others could not.

“I am happy to donate to National Jewish Health since it means I’m not spending the money on treatment,” said former patient Susan Black. “Luckily, I haven’t had a reason to come back.”

Susan’s path to improved health began with a call to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which would lead her to National Jewish Health and the resolution of a complicated medical case.

In 2005, an infection on Susan’s skin caused a large wound on her face. Doctors in Michigan diagnosed her with a form of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) called mycobacterium terrae complex and put her on a regimen of antibiotics for a year. NTM is a germ related to the tuberculosis germ, and most people do not know how they came into contact with it.

Susan, a retired intensive care nurse, wanted a second opinion and called the CDC to find out where she should go. She was surprised when she received a call back. “They told me to go to National Jewish Health,” she recalled.

From the moment she arrived at National Jewish Health in 2006, Susan was impressed with the care she received. “The staff, the nurses, the doctors – they couldn’t have been nicer,” she said. “Everyone was so professional.”

Susan was seen for 10 days in the Adult Day Unit, which specializes in outpatient care of adult patients with respiratory and infectious diseases.

Her physicians determined that, in addition to the mycobacterium terrae infection, Susan had a dental infection that would require two surgeries. Again, she was impressed with the level of collaboration with the oral surgeon at a different Denver hospital.

Now that she is feeling better, Susan is enjoying retirement. She loves spending time with her two grandchildren and is now able to garden and travel —  things she couldn’t do when she was sick. 

“If it wasn’t for the care I received, I don’t think I would be here,” she said. “I would tell anyone to bypass this, that and the other and go straight to National Jewish Health.”

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