Chris Sause has firsthand understanding of just how valuable Ascension Sacred Heart is to the communities it serves. His insight is both personal, as a father whose son Karsten survived a critical illness; and professional, as a realtor who has witnessed the tremendous growth and accompanying needs of the region.

When two-year old Karsten came down with a severe case of pneumonia, an emergency room doctor ordered transfer to an Intensive Care Unit. Chris and his wife chose to have their child treated at a facility closest to their home, a move he freely admits was a mistake: “I came to learn how different healthcare can be even in a relatively small geographic area.”

Becoming increasingly dissatisfied with that experience, they transferred their son to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart, where for the first time they felt he was in good hands. A CT scan was ordered, which revealed that Karsten’s pneumonia had a serious complication: a pleural effusion (infection) outside the lungs that was keeping the IV antibiotics from penetrating and doing their work. The effusion was so bad and had grown so large that it was pushing his tiny heart to the other side of his chest. He would require surgery.

The two-hour long, video-assisted procedure was performed successfully by a pediatric surgeon. And Karsten began to heal. In retrospect, Chris says, “The beauty of the Children’s Hospital was that everyone was fantastic.” He gives great credit to the doctors, hospitalists, and team of residents, as well as the nurses (whom he likens to Ninjas), and even the custodian who cleaned Karsten’s room.

Today, five years later, Chris describes his son as a “happy, extremely healthy, athletic, well-rounded little guy.” And a grateful Chris is giving back by serving on the Ascension Sacred Heart Foundation Development Board.

Professionally, his career as a real estate broker, managing six Berkshire Hathaway Home Services’ offices from Santa Rosa Beach to Pensacola, gives him a unique perspective of healthcare’s role in the region’s development. “Without it, the exponential growth in communities such as Miramar Beach, Sandestin, and 30A would not have occurred. You wouldn’t have any of it. Ascension Sacred Heart is a vital part of that.”

With the influx of young families, Chris has seen the Emerald Coast community progress beyond a vacation and retirement venue. With pediatric and emergency care becoming even more critical, Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital Emerald Coast now ministers to the needs of what Chris believes has become a “full time community.”