On August 8, 1991, Mike Van Vranken was on a business trip to Fairfield Bay, Arkansas, when he received a call that changed everything. Emily, his 15-year-old daughter, had been involved in a devastating car accident.
Van Vranken’s thoughts immediately began to fill with the worst-case scenarios. The only information available was that Emily had been with a friend and that one of them had been cut from the wreckage.
On the 80 mile drive from Fairfield Bay to Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock (BHMC-LR), Van Vranken found comfort in his faith. “At the same time that I was lifting my heart and voice to God, my dear 15-year-old was fighting for her life,” said Van Vranken.
When he arrived at BHMC-LR, Van Vranken learned that the injuries Emily sustained were not without complication. “In the ambulance, she had stopped breathing for, what at least one medical technician said, was close to 5 minutes,” said Van Vranken. Emily went on to flatline twice while at BHMC-LR. She had also suffered a fractured pelvis, an intricate head wound, and a severe internal injury that left her unconscious for three days. Though Emily’s condition was extremely critical, Van Vranken was able to find solace in God’s promises made in Psalm 91.
When Emily finally awoke, the real healing was able to begin. The team at Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute (BHRI) worked fervently to deliver on Baptist Health’s mission 一 to provide quality patient care with Christian compassion. Mike and Barbara Van Vranken were in awe as they watched their daughter make a full recovery. But during that time, they also noticed something else.
“While Emily was in the hospital and at BHRI, Barbara and I met so many families who had to miss work, sleep on the floor of the waiting room, struggle to have money to eat in the cafeteria, or have to go back to work while leaving a loved one at the hospital or BHRI,” said Van Vranken. “They had to worry about insurance, finances, healing, and all that goes with a traumatic injury or accident.” While observing the other families put in situations similar to his, Van Vranken felt a strong desire to help. “God was speaking to us to start the Psalm 91 Fund and share our story, our resources, and our prayers,” said Van Vranken.
Since 1995, the Psalm 91 fund has helped thousands lessen the financial burden that a hospital stay can place on patients and their families. The fund provides recipients with gas cards and stipends to cover the cost of meals, prescriptions, utility bills, and health care equipment.
“Any organization is nothing more than the people who make it up. The wonderful people at the Baptist Health Foundation have been comforting, caring, and inspiring as we looked for ways to help other people,” said Van Vranken. “Barbara, Emily, and I continue to thank and praise God for his intervention in our lives. We also thank everyone in the Baptist Health system who has done so much for so many.”
Through prayer and stewardship the Van Vranken family was able to turn a tragedy into an opportunity for ministry. Their story will always be a part of Baptist Health’s legacy, and it will continue to inspire patients, families, and those who serve in our system for generations to come.