Vibra Hospital patient finds relief in creativity, amid next step care struggles

Jessica's yarn animals
Jessica's yarn animals(KVLY)
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 9:23 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A hospital inside a hospital, that’s the story for Vibra, which is inside the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo.

They are for long term acute care, meaning patients typically stay for an average of 25 to 30 days. Some stay less, some stay more. The goal is discharging to home, rehab, or a nursing facility after their stay.

However, for some patients, discharge to a facility that would be equipped for them is hundreds of miles away from home.

It’s Jessica Bentson’s fourth stay at Vibra Hospital. This round, she’s been here since May.

“It’s nice to have a safe place to be,” she says.

Jessica is only in her 40s. She was a podiatrist. Growing up in North Dakota, she worked in the medical field in several states before moving back to Moorhead. Her work in the medical field gave her the knowledge of Vibra and what they do.

“A lot of patients don’t have a facility like this close to home,” she says.

For her, going home from Vibra, or anywhere else, is a struggle. Although, she has been been able to go home a handful of times.

“She was not allowed to have any pain meds at home because everything has to be IV, Medicare would not allow Medicare IV pain medication at home,” says Jessica’s mother Lois.

“Minnesota medical assistance is currently refusing to pay for anything out of state and the closest facility is in Omaha, Nebraska,” says Jessica.

It’s a sacrifice that, Jessica says, comes down to priorities. Either give up seeing your loved ones or get the care you need. She has family around the area, and her time spent with her niece and nephews is priceless to her. One of her nephews even staying with her as she had surgery.

“‘I’m going along,’ he said. He went down there right into the room, stood by the bed and held her hand,” says Lois.

So, traveling far away would hurt her and her family.

“We’ve had so many places that have said ‘Oh, we can’t take her. She’s too complicated for us’. There are very few places in the United States that will take her,” says Lois.

So, Jessica and her mother are advocating for change.

“In the long run, hopefully, it will get people thinking about some of the things they should be thinking about. Maybe the next person will have a better opportunity or better chance and won’t have to wait and be excited one minute, and be so terribly disappointed the next minute,” says Lois.

“You never know what tomorrow may bring,” says Jessica.

For now, as Jessica stays on the seventh floor.

“It’s nice to feel useful,” she says.

She spends her days creating some incredible yarn animals.

“It’s her source of pain relief,” says her mother.

She uses them to take some pain away from others, too. Some go to children at the Roger Maris Cancer Center.

“She was at Roger Maris one day, and we were sitting in the waiting room because she had an appointment there. Out came a mother and her little girl. The little girl was hugging the animal as tight as she could. That made it worth it all to be able to see that,” says Lois.

Using some dark days to make others’ much brighter.

“It’s really interesting hearing her perspective on life being that she has not been dealt the best of hands but she still has a better outlook on life than a lot of the population that is able bodied,” says Jessica’s nurse at Vibra Hospital Lily Breckel.

“I can control my attitude so I try,” says Jessica.

Jessica does make her yarn animals to order, through her business Yo Doc! Crafts. If you’re interested, you can get ahold of her by email at: