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  • Karla Jo Tupper office window at the Mary Bridge Health Center overlooks Frisko Freeze. It’s the same view she had 38 years ago as a child, when she was rushed to Mary Bridge for emergency surgery that saved her life.

    Karla Jo Tupper office window at the Mary Bridge Health Center overlooks Frisko Freeze. It’s the same view she had 38 years ago as a child, when she was rushed to Mary Bridge for emergency surgery that saved her life.

    RN was once Mary Bridge patient, with same view of Frisko Freeze

    by Cole Cosgrove

    Frisko Freeze, the iconic Tacoma hamburger stand, is the dominant view from Karla Jo Tupper’s office window at the Mary Bridge Health Center.

    It’s the same view she had 38 years ago as a child, when she was rushed to Mary Bridge for emergency surgery that saved her life.

    A strangulating, ruptured cyst in her abdomen left her with gangrene and peritonitis, and a dangerous fever of 106. 

    “I spent a week in bed, and people-watching at Frisko Freeze was my only entertainment,” said Tupper, an RN who works in pediatric neurology at the Mary Bridge Health Center. “As a 15-year-old, it was very interesting to me to watch the comings and goings at Frisko Freeze. The smell of hamburgers filled the air – they smelled like the fair -- and the neon lights came on at night.”

    Recovering from abdominal surgery meant she was stuck in her room, and very few things were appetizing to her.

    “My nurses were so wonderful, and they worked so hard to scrounge up things that sounded good for me to eat,” Tupper said. “I always felt like they were going out of their way to care for me as an individual, and that was a key part of my healing.”

    In addition to the compassion from the nurses, her parents also brought food from Frisko Freeze during their visits.

    “The milkshakes and the onion rings were so delicious,” she said.

    In July, Tupper will mark her 27th anniversary at MultiCare. She worked 16 years in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and helped start the lactation center at Tacoma General Hospital (the team won a MultiCare President’s Award for their work). She then joined the neurology department at Mary Bridge, where she ended up in the second-floor office that overlooks Frisko Freeze.

    “As I went into nursing, I always thought I’d want to be at Mary Bridge, and try to give the same compassionate care I received there,” Tupper said. “It’s really fun to end up with an office with the same view.”

    Posted on May 20, 2013 in Tacoma