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Retired Oliver pastor seeks help for U.S. medical bills

Elroy Pankratz suffered a major stroke on Christmas Eve while visiting family in Oregon

The family of Elroy Pankratz is seeking the public’s help to cover his U.S. medical bills after the Penticton resident suffered a major stroke in Pendleton, Oregon, while visiting family.

The 82-year-old and his wife, Nancy, were visiting their daughter for the holidays when he suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve and had to be transported to Providence Portland Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. There, he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.

The two planned on staying in the U.S. for two days and did not purchase travel insurance for their trip. Now in stable condition, Elroy and Nancy are on their way home to Penticton to continue his recovery at the Penticton Regional Hospital.

“My dad was a pastor for First Nations people for 20 years in Merritt and Bella Bella too. Then he was a pastor in Oliver from 1987 to 2002. Since then, he’s been a volunteer pastor – he never really retired,” said Mark Pankratz, Elroy’s son. “Ten years ago he visited Africa to help start Home of Hope, which now has 10,000 orphans in care as well as 100 churches they support.”

Mark said his dad hasn’t slowed down his community efforts over the years and he often jokes that he didn’t get retired, he got “re-fired” up to continue helping others. Elroy made his most recent trip to Africa to continue his work with Home of Hope in August 2018.

“He’s always loved people who are hurting and struggling with things. He’s been like a dad to many people who didn’t have fathers. He’s just a wonderful person, always giving,” said Mark.

Elroy’s daughter-in-law and Mark’s wife, Raë, said despite this major setback in his health, Elroy has remained in good spirits.

“He’s pretty funny right now, his responses are limited. But when he was talking and a little bit would come out he said ‘Well I guess I’m in the penalty box now.’,” said Raë.

Mark said Elroy was lucky to receive quality care at Providence Portland Medical Center, a medical facility that specializes in helping stroke victims.

“When they flew him there, a specialist did a surgery to go through his groing with a catheter and mechanically remove the blood clot from his brain,” said Mark. “There were able to do on the third and final attempt.”

“After that attempt, they weren’t going to do it again so it was the last try,” added Raë.

“Yeah, it was a very close call,” said Mark.

Mark said their family is now facing over $100,000 USD ($140,000 CAD) in medical bills. The Pankratz family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with these costs, raising $2,305 of their $50,000 goal in just one day.

Mark and Raë are pastors at Life Church in Penticton, which will also be accepting donations through its website. The church is has an approved benevolence fund to help Elroy as a retired pastor. When making a donation through the church’s website, simply select ‘Benevolence’ under the Give tab to direct the funding to Elroy’s medical costs.

Elroy’s recovery will be a long one, as he can’t currently speak, swallow or move his left side, but he and his family are prepared to take the journey one step at a time. They are grateful for the support and prayers they have already receieved from the community.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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