By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

Ross Funk, gritting his teeth against the pain radiating from his ankle, says his buddies tell him he needs a better story about how he broke his lower leg.

The truth is, he simply stepped wrong off a curb.

“I knew it was broken right away,” said Funk, 32.

Indeed it was — he had a bimalleolar fracture, meaning he broke both the inside and outside of his ankle bone.

That was nearly three years ago. Since then, Funk has become a familiar sight at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City as he works through recovery.

“I wanted to do it local, without having to travel,” Funk said.

He’s had four surgeries on his ankle.

“I had nine screws and a plate put in my ankle,” he said. “Then my body rejected it.”

That was the first surgery, then he had another surgery to remove the metal.

But his healing was slow, and it was discovered he had a serious bone infection called osteomyelitis.

“That’s when I began coming here — Aug. 24, 2018,” he said.

“Here” refers to the Billie Ruth Bootsma Clinic at Saint Alphonsus. It is an outpatient treatment center providing allergy injections, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, hematology, infusions, treatments for autoimmune disorders, IV antibiotics, and wound care.

Those last two are what brought Funk to the clinic.

He started IV antibiotics to fight the osteomyelitis, which can often lead to an amputation.

His leg was saved.

Following the antibiotics, Funk’s appointments were for wound care with registered nurse Amy Branaugh-Baker who made sure his ankle incision was healing. He came once a day for six weeks, then once a week for the next five months.

“When I started coming to Billie Ruth, that’s when the healing process sped up. It’s been a blessing,” he said. “Even days I didn’t want to get out of bed, I’d never miss an appointment.”

He became familiar to all the staff.

“I’ve met some really nice people and made some good friends,” he said.

His appointments were set up so he could go straight from physical therapy to the Bootsma Clinic — another advantage, he says, of staying in Baker City for his care.

Although he has been discharged for wound care — with instructions and supplies for home — Funk still has at least a month of physical therapy ahead of him. He’s working on range of motion, balance, and strength with the goal of getting back to hiking and snowboarding.

But he plans to show up at the Bootsma Clinic again, even after he’s healed.

“I’ll never be fully done — I’ll have to come in and say hi. Give my friends a hug,” he said.

About the clinic

The clinic’s outpatient services also includes chemotherapy, and Dr. Maynard Bronstein sees patients on Wednesdays. He specializes in medical oncology and hematology (blood disorders).

For more information about the Billie Ruth Bootsma Clinic, call 541-524-7870.