Sharing miracles: Inpatient rehab center to host reunion

By Austin Jackson | Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Road to Recovery

ROAD TO RECOVERY – Carolyn Hardee, who’s recovering from a stroke, receives treatment from occupational therapist Angie Michalik at the Wise Health System Inpatient Rehabilitation Center in Decatur Monday. The center will host a reunion for former patients Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

When patients arrive at the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Wise Health System in Decatur, their world has been rocked.

Most come in after having a stroke. Talking, walking and eating – things people take for granted – are now Herculean tasks.

WALKING AGAIN – Diana Fowler, who’s recovering from a stroke, walks the halls with her physical therapist Millie Bradley at the Wise Health System Inpatient Rehabilitation Center in Decatur Monday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

But after weeks of inpatient care at the center, immersed in therapy alongside a community of patients, doctors, nurses and therapists, those patients emerge, ready to reenter the world with a new lease on life.

“We see miracles here,” center director Dee Green said. “We see people come in on stretchers and then walk out the door.”

On Wednesday, as part of National Rehab Awareness Week, the rehabilitation center will host a reunion, where patients who entered treatment will share their stories and personal miracles.

Most who enter the program have been diagnosed as having a stroke, hip fracture, polyneuropathies, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis. Some have suffered amputation, non-traumatic spinal cord injuries, head injuries or major multiple traumas.

More than 600 reunion invitations were sent to former patients. Green said it’s a special day for them and the people who help them work toward a normal life.

The WHS team and patients form a community, which is integral to the rehabilitation process for inpatient care, Green said. Keeping people connected after two to four weeks of inpatient care is a part of maintaining healing.

“Patients build relationships with other patients, and when you’re with a therapist for an hour-and-a-half a day every day, you build relationships,” Green said. “You become family, then you come home.”

Inpatient rehabilitation at Wise Health includes medical management, rehabilitation nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, neuropsychological services, therapeutic recreation, respiratory care, clinical nutrition and social work.

Inside the physical therapy room are weights, bands, workout balls, but also a fully functioning kitchen where people learn how to cook again.

They learn how to get in and out of a car and garden in the outdoor treatment facility.

Green said it’s where people learn to live again.

“Three hours of therapy per day makes you improve quickly,” she said. “You start seeing that progress, and you gain the hope that, ‘You know what? I’m really going to be OK.'”

Green said working in an environment where people learn to hope again is rewarding for herself and the staff, who aren’t technically trained in compassion, but exhibit the traits in their daily work.

“Our staff is specialty hired,” she said. “They are encouragers; they’re motivators; they bring joy. It’s not just a day-to-day grind for us. You start seeing the miracles; you get excited about this person walking. Their progress is our passion. We get better when they get better.”

The reunion is 4 to 6 p.m. at the Wise Health System West Campus, 2000 S FM 51, in Decatur. Cake will be served.

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