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Kindness a family received amid tragedy inspires them

Their nonprofit helps others facing medical emergencies

The Shegruds got to hold their 16-month-old grandson as he died, because smaller details such as food and sleeping arrangements were taken care of.

Now they hope to do the same for other families in medical crisis.

In honor of Micah Miller, Dan and Mary Shegrud launched a nonprofit to take care of these details for families facing medical emergencies in Spokane, so they can focus on their loved ones. While their ultimate goal – an actual home, called Micah House – remains a dream, the Shegruds’ ministry already has helped people find places to stay during treatment and provided gas cards and meals.

“We want to draw a circle of inclusion that brings people into our home. They will be welcome at our table morning, noon and night. It’s most important for people to know they’re not walking through their medical crisis alone,” Dan Shegrud said.

In August 2003, a driver blinded by the sun hit Micah and his father, Eric, while they were out on a walk. Micah never regained consciousness.

The family spent nine days living in Micah’s hospital room at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit staff brought beds and food and provided whatever they needed so they could focus on Micah, the Shegruds said.

“We just held him and loved him. We miss him, but you have to go on,” Mary Shegrud said.

The Shegruds recently moved from Renton to the Spokane area. They’ve been working with the medical community to learn more about the needs of people in medical crisis, they said. They will accept referrals from hospital officials, social workers and chaplains, Dan Shegrud said.

Although Micah House will accommodate people with any type of medical emergency, one person they will take referrals from is Cherie Dean, an employee of American Cancer Society who helps adult cancer patients at Sacred Heart and Providence Holy Family Hospital find resources.

“Cancer patients’ need for lodging is the greatest due to the intensity and length of treatments,” Dean said. The average cancer treatment lasts six weeks.

Dean said the need for a resource like Micah House is “a very big field of need.” Certain hotels in Spokane donate rooms for patients, but due to the economy, hotels have less to spare, Dean said.

On average, Dean sees three patients with lodging requests per week, and she’s just one of a number of employees trying to help patients find resources. Last year, 2,000 adults were treated in Spokane Providence hospitals for cancer. For patients who come from out of town, the costs of lodging, transportation and food, on top of the cost of treatment, is staggering.

“These people have the heart to say we see this need,” Dean said. “No one else is meeting this need, so why doesn’t the community get behind this house?”

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