12-year-old's letter about Grandpa earns class trip



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Posted on June 3, 2014 at 7:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 3 at 8:02 PM

MONROE, Wash .— A Monroe hospital welcomed a group of 6th graders Tuesday afternoon for a field trip prompted by one student’s letter.

“Dear Dr. Hochman. My name is Niko Johnson,” the 12 year old read. “I’ve gone through a lot of stuff in the 12 years I’ve been alive.”

Johnson’s father left his family seven years ago after his parents divorced. His mom battles alcoholism. But his letter focuses on his grandfather, Bob Strom, who nearly died of a heart attack.

Providence Health & Services doctors saved Strom’s life with triple bypass surgery.

“What if I lose my grandpa? I mean, he’s been one of my idols since my dad left,” Johnson said.

As a thank you, Johnson wrote Providence CEO Dr. Rod Hochman.

“It didn’t seem like it came from someone who’s 12-years-old and in 6th grade. It was very articulate,” said Providence Northwest Region CEO Preston Simmons.

Johnson’s principal pulled him out of class soon after and told him that Hochman not only responded, he was impressed.

“Only in my wildest dreams,” Strom said about his grandson’s letter. “That’s precious. I just look at it that way.”

To say “you’re welcome,” the health system invited Johnson’s 6th grade class on a tour. The students touched real human organs and learned about imaging equipment like ultrasound machines.

Unnecessary but cool, Johnson said, since the hospital already gave him what he needs most.

“I’m glad that he’s here and I hope he doesn’t go away for a long time,” he said.