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Siskin Hospital helps Ronny recover from bull attack and return to family farm

August 25, 2021

Just as he had done hundreds of times before, Ronny Jackson, 66, walked to the barn to begin vaccinating a herd of calves.

The last thing he remembers is opening the gate for a young bull. This 800-pound bull had never attacked anyone, and Ronny was not afraid of him. Ronny watched the bull approach the gate, never dreaming that he himself would not return home until nearly a month later.

Ronny’s farmhands saw him standing at the gate as usual. What was unusual was the young bull’s reaction. To their horror, he suddenly lowered his head and charged Ronny, pitching him 24 feet away before lunging to trample him. The bull slammed Ronny against the barn wall and mauled him before the men could bring the animal under control.

Pre-retirement, Ronny had been chief of his small community’s volunteer fire department. When his fellow firefighters heard about the attack, they raced to help. Others in the community heard the news on the scanner, and they too hurried to assist. Moments after the ambulance arrived, the driveway was so thronged with cars that neighbors coming to Ronny’s aid were parking in the pasture and along the road.

Life Force lands to transport Ronny to Erlanger Medical Center for urgent care.

The EMTs loaded Ronny into the ambulance and administered medical care. While they waited for Life Force to arrive, a local evangelist and pastor approached an EMT and asked if he could speak with Ronny. The EMT said Ronny had experienced so much head trauma, he would probably never recognize him. But as Ronny was lifted from the ambulance to the helicopter, he saw his pastor and feebly said, “Brother Donnie, y’all pray for me!”

For 19 days, Ronny was between sedation and mental instability in Erlanger’s Trauma ICU. He had extensive injuries, including a broken neck at vertebrae C3 and C4, a great deal of throat tissue damage, and bleeding on the brain. Meanwhile, his family began the search for post-acute rehabilitation. They chose Siskin Hospital because of its reputable name among neighbors and Erlanger’s staff. A few days following his admission to Siskin Hospital, Ronny was stable enough to begin his inpatient therapy.

Ronny’s nephew visits his uncle through the glass at Siskin Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ronny’s therapists began an intensive therapy program with him to help meet his goal of returning home to the family farm. This included bouts of occupational, physical, and speech therapies. Ronny had hoped to go home shortly after he regained his steady mind, but he did not realize how weak he had become from his injuries and weeks of bed confinement. Following his inpatient stay, Ronny received outpatient therapy two to three days a week.

Near the end of his stay at Siskin Hospital, Michelle Smith, a speech-language pathologist, came in the room. She said, “I’m going to bring you a sandwich – do you want pimento cheese or chicken salad?” Ronny responded that it didn’t matter, and when she brought it, it looked seven inches tall to Ronny! It was the first solid food he had eaten in 24 days because of the extensive injuries to his throat. It tasted so good! Michelle gave him a long time to eat it as she evaluated his strengthening ability to swallow.

Now, Ronny is back to his farm work and helping at his family’s farm supply store. He says his experience has made him much more appreciative of people and their willingness to help others.

Ronny is extremely pleased with and grateful for members of the healthcare field – especially those within the realm of rehabilitation. He says he was always greeted with a smile and encouraged with uplifting words from doctors, nurses, CNAs, and custodial staff as he made his way toward recovery.

“Life is so uncertain, and I thank the Lord for all the help He sent my way,” says Ronny. “Because of Siskin Hospital, I can have hope and life again.”