Hugh Steadman recalls World War II service
After Hugh Steadman graduated from high school in 1943, he knew the military draft was inevitable. So, he volunteered for service and went to the medical corps in Abilene, Texas. He wasn’t exactly thrilled with that assignment but his luck changed after basic training.
“I saw a notice on the bulletin board about the Army Air Corps and took it immediately,” said Steadman, a Great Bend man involved in a veterans’ health-care program at St. Rose.
Steadman was a nose gunner and togaleer on a B-17 and flew 25 missions; 22 were combat missions over Germany and three were humanitarian efforts over German-occupied Holland.
“People were starving,” he said. “We flew in at 300 feet and dropped food on what appeared to be a soccer field. They wrote a big thank-you note on the side of a hill in tulips.”
The message was: Thank you, Yanks.
First, it involved trips to Wichita. Then, things got a little better when the site was switched to Hays.
But now things are a whole lot better for Hugh Steadman because he receives a lot of his health care just a few minutes from home.
The 88-year-old Great Bend man participates in Project ARCH, a federal program that allows veterans to receive some health care at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center. ARCH stands for Access Received Closer to Home.
“I tell you,” Steadman said, “you don’t know how much this helps. ARCH is a tremendous program for veterans and I am so grateful St. Rose took the steps to get involved in it.”
Steadman not only recommends ARCH to anyone who will listen, he also has told his story to Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Pat Roberts. Moran was instrumental in passing ARCH legislation.
“I had heard some talk about Congress maybe cutting the program,” Steadman recalled. “I called the senators’ offices and I certainly relayed a message to them.
“This is a tremendous program that can make life a little easier for veterans,” he explained. “Even when I had to go to Hays, it could shoot the whole day. Staying home is so much better.”
Steadman’s ARCH physician is James McReynolds, M.D., at Great Bend Internists, which is part of the St. Rose family.
“I can get to Dr. McReynolds’ office in about 10 minutes,” said Steadman, a World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps. “And his treatment is great. He is good and takes his time with you.”
Steadman notes that prior to ARCH, he had to call in prescriptions to Wichita and wait about nine days for delivery.
“I never talked to a human being,” he said. “But with ARCH, I can call Dr. McReynolds’ office and talk with Linda Stukey. She places the order and I get it in about three days.”
Steadman also relies on Dr. McReynolds for blood work, check-ups, x-rays and other diagnostics.
The physician said he is hearing positive feedback about ARCH not only from Steadman but many other patients and families.
“Hugh and other veterans benefit because they can access their right to Veterans Administration medical care right here at St. Rose,” McReynolds said. “Since out-of-town travel isn’t needed, the veterans have regular access to medical care and are less dependent on family and friends in getting to appointments.”
ARCH is especially important for veterans who don’t have other insurance, as well as those who have chronic medical conditions that require regular check-ups, Dr. McReynolds said.
“The physicians at Great Bend Internists and St. Rose Family Medicine stepped up and became credentialed to participate in ARCH,” he added. “We are pleased to offer this safety net for veterans.”
Other St. Rose ARCH participants are Jean Pringle, M.D., and physician assistants Ed Habash and Jeanne Burmester, all of Great Bend Internists; and Stan Hatesohl, M.D., and Charise Oelger, P.A., both of St. Rose Family Medicine and Urgent Care.
St. Rose is part of Centura Health, which connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.