Dave and Linda Sundberg are longtime supporters of the hospitals that today make up Bryan Health.
They met in the 1960s at the University of Nebraska. She was a Lincoln native and he was a Husker football player from Red Wing, Minn. After graduation, the young couple moved to Germany, where Dave was an Army pilot and their second child was born.
A Relationship Is Born
Links to Bryan Health were established soon after they returned to Nebraska.
"Way back in about 1970," Dave says, "when Bob Brungard was chief executive of Lincoln General Hospital and Gene Edwards was the chief executive at Bryan, I made a visit for the Lincoln Jaycees to recruit a new vice president at Lincoln General — David Henry."
The two hit it off, and the Sundbergs and the Henrys quickly became good friends.
"It was through that friendship that Bob asked me to join a council at Lincoln General related to community branding and financial development," Dave says. "Being in the insurance business, I was later invited to draw up a proposal for a benefit plan for the hospital's employees. The council approved that plan, and later Bryan's human resources director, Jerry Sellentin, invited me to create something similar for them.
"So I got to know a lot of people in the community as well as many department heads at both Bryan facilities. I'm still friends with Gene, who retired years ago."
Turning to Bryan for Healthcare Needs
Besides those business and community service links, over the years the Sundbergs have turned for healthcare needs to Bryan, where a son and daughter were born, and Linda was a patient seven years ago.
"While walking from one of the businesses at SouthPointe mall, I was hit by a car," Linda says. "I had a traumatic brain injury, so the ambulance took me to the Trauma Center at Bryan Medical Center West."
She was in a coma and remained hospitalized for 11 days before going to rehab.
"I was pretty bruised but didn't need brain surgery," she says. "Thank heavens for the fabulous people we have working at Bryan, especially Dr. Reginald Burton (trauma and critical surgeon)."
Helping Friends During a Trauma
She notes that the trauma team was instrumental recently in helping a friend's husband when he was seriously injured in a car crash. Dave and Linda were frequent visitors to that couple during the following weeks.
"I had gone through a similar thing, so I believed I could offer hope to them," she says.
Linda was at Bryan West for much of each day during that hospitalization. Their friend has since recovered and the Sundbergs have continued a tradition of visiting the hospital staff.
"We've been told repeatedly by caregivers that it's very important for them to be able to see that patients they've treated even briefly in the emergency or the ICU have recovered and are doing fine," Dave says. "So we make a point to go back to greet the nurses every Christmas. It gives us a chance to get to know the new staff, to renew old friendships and to show that we appreciate what they do."
The Sundbergs also show their gratitude to Bryan Health. They attend the annual Tribute to Trauma Champions recognition event — usually sitting with Dr. Burton — and they've named Bryan as a beneficiary of their life insurance policy and instructed the Bryan Foundation to direct their gifts to support the Trauma Center.