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Life-saving Cardiac Care Creates Inspiring Art Dedicated to Hope and Family

Kase family presents painting to CRMC Foundation Director John Bell

Ronda Kase painted her creation, “Flowers Bloom in Winter” to commemorate the care her husband received at Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC). Each daffodil bloom depicted stands for one of their grandchildren, some of whom only know their grandfather now due to the lifesaving care he received here at CRMC.

In January 2021, an idea began to take root in the hearts of the Kase family. What started as a vision drawn on paper, blossomed into a tribute to life, resilience and care, culminating in a painting completed in April 2024. This painting with its delicate daffodils depicts each grandchild of the family and their unwavering bond through their grandfather’s journey.

March 13 is a date forever etched in their memories. It was a day that saw a bloom of divine intervention through human tragedy. On that fateful evening, after their drive to church from Livingston to Gainesboro, Jim Kase found himself resting in a pew prior to church service. His wife, Ronda, was initially amused by what she thought was him waking himself with a snore, but quickly realized something was wrong.

“Our daughter was arriving at church just as Jim’s episode began. Within a minute, Jim had turned purple and she had begun CPR,” shared Ronda.

In an instance of divine design, the Vanderbilt LifeFlight helicopter was in Gainesboro that night, ensuring a rapid response. The EMS crew arrived swiftly, taking over CPR and stabilizing Jim for transport. He had been without a pulse for over 14 minutes, which felt like an eternity to his anxious family.

“I told them I wanted Jim to be taken to Cookeville Regional Medical Center,” said Ronda.

Upon arrival, the medical staff’s response was prompt and decisive, sending Jim immediately to the cath lab. The cardiologist explained the gravity of Jim’s condition: three blocked arteries and significant heart damage, giving him a 50% chance of survival.

For the family, time seemed to pass in super speed, but painfully slow. Over the next few days, Jim’s condition slowly improved. He emerged from his coma on Monday, able to communicate with nods and hand movements. By Tuesday, he began to show encouraging signs of recovery. To ease her anxiety, Ronda took to walking the floors at CRMC, looking at all of the pieces of art throughout the medical center. It was there that the seeds of her painting was born.

The family’s overwhelming sense of gratitude extended to every nurse, physician, technician and therapist who played a part in Jim’s recovery.

“I wanted to honor these caregivers,” said Ronda. “The painting, a garden of daffodils, with each bloom representing one of our grandchildren, became a symbol of our collective resilience and gratitude through this journey.”

After enduring six cardiac stents and three months with a Lifevest defribulator, Jim was finally clear of issues. The love and support from his family, and of his medical team provided a beacon of hope.

The five years since his cardiac arrest have been a testament to the family’s faith and the blessings they received. The painting project, titled “Flowers Bloom in Winter”, was delayed by the continual growth of their family, finally reached completion this past spring. With each grandchild, some of whom Jim never would’ve met without his lifesaving care, the family’s love only grew stronger.

Through art and shared memories, Ronda hopes to share the hope of the extraordinary care that saved Jim’s life.

“As others walk the hospital floors, we hope it helps them,” said Kase.

Their story, like the daffodils that bloom in winter, is a testament to the enduring strength of family, faith, and human spirit.