'I will be forever grateful...'

Bernadette Gonzalez's Story

She fell hard on the floor and instantly knew she was in trouble. Alone, in the garage, Bernadette Gonzalez couldn’t move and needed help. Without warning, her leg hyper-extended and she collapsed. Her husband, Pedro, was hospitalized and no one could help her. Afraid, she thought of calling her children. She looked down and saw that something had separated in her lower left leg.

She was seriously hurt. Gently, she scooted toward the car where she had left her purse on her way to visit Pedro at the hospital. Bernadette reached for the phone, called her daughter, Angela, and then called 911. Pedro, who was critically ill, still did not know about Bernadette’s injuries. She was admitted into surgery at Palomar Medical Center Poway with a serious tibia injury and a fractured ankle. Terrified and unsure, Bernadette met Dr. Kevin Owsley, an orthopedic surgeon, who reassured her. She felt like she was in good hands.

After the surgery, Bernadette awoke to find her left leg repaired and a cast on her right ankle. She would not be able to bear weight on either foot for eight to 10 weeks, but she would heal. The recovery was difficult. Bernadette spent three months at a rehab center. And through it all, Pedro's condition only worsened. Less than two months after the fall, Bernadette lost Pedro after 51 years of marriage. He never fully understood the extent of her injuries. Grieving and still recovering, Bernadette mostly remembers the compassionate care Dr. Owsley and the staff at Palomar Medical Center Poway showed her. "He was always kind and encouraging. He made me believe I would walk again." And, indeed, she did. "One of the best days I had was the very first time I could walk with a walker after a very difficult, yet skilled therapy, Bernadette said.

Today, Bernadette continues to walk with the help from a walker. She still mourns for the loss of Pedro. “I’ll never get over the loss of my husband,” she said. But she says she is grateful to have had 51 wonderful years with him. - and the support from her children, family and hospital staff when she needed it most.

Eight days before he passed, a hospital chaplain helped Bernadette and Pedro renew their vows. Pedro wasn't very responsive. But, he did give her a kiss, Bernadette will always remember. "I will be forever grateful to Dr. Owsley and the staff who were there for me that fateful night," she said. "That encouragement made a difference for me in a big way. At the time, it was very easy to feel so discouraged." 

Every new day brings new patients, like Bernadette, to Palomar Health hospitals. Thanks to friends, like you, we are able to provide physicians and staff with the most advanced medical instruments, resources and equipment to care for these patients when they depend on it most. She is grateful to have had 51 wonderful years with him – and the support from her children, family and hospital staff when she needed it most. 

If Bernadette's story inspired you, give now to the Palomar Health Foundation to help other patients like her. Contact us at 760.739.2787 to discuss any gift opportunities.

  • Palomar Medical Center Escondido


    2185 Citracado Parkway

    Escondido, CA 92029





  • Palomar Medical Center Poway


    15615 Pomerado Road

    Poway, CA 92064