Patti Harvey and Kathy Colwell are Program Managers in Rehabilitation at Providence Care Hospital who have shared their stories this year with donors across the region through the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) holiday campaign: Hope for the Hurting.
Patients can be in a dark place when they come to the Providence Care Hospital. Whether they have had a limb amputated, or have suffered a stroke, spinal cord, brain or other debilitating injury, their life-and-death struggle often leaves them feeling hopeless and afraid.
Survivors of stroke have likened this after-shock to staring into the face of a lion: many cannot see beyond the threat, trauma fills their field of vision. In rehabilitation and complex care our job often includes helping patients to tame that lion, to turn it into a mouse they can tuck in their back pocket so they can move on and learn to live again.
I’m Patti Harvey, and I’m Kathy Colwell. We’re both Program Managers in Rehabilitation at Providence Care Hospital. We have dedicated our careers to helping our patients regain as much function as they can, as safely as they can.
And we don’t do it alone. Our care teams are inter-disciplinary and include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, nurses and dietitians, just to name a few. When we say it takes a village to be a centre of excellence for rehabilitation we mean it.
And that village is always hard at work because we know our patients have the toughest job of all: recovery and transition. Sometimes they must learn a new way of walking, or a new way of talking. The harder they work, the harder we work.
Central to how we support the efforts of our patients is to understand their goals and develop personalized plans to break those goals down into small, manageable pieces.
Be it a musician who wants to play her favorite instrument again, or a retiree who dreams of a few more good years at home still able to rake his own leaves safely, all of our patients have to face day one of rehabilitation. And that’s a hard day, when they must look the lion square in the eyes and begin, however slowly and frustratingly, to show him who is the boss.
By the time they go home, our hope for our patients and clients is that they can say “Yes” to the all-important question, “Did we help you achieve your goals?”
Nowadays our beautiful new hospital is the setting for this difficult work. Many of our staff came here from the old St. Mary’s of the Lake site and still provide the exceptional care they always did. But this transformed environment has a profound impact on the day-to-day lives of patients, clients and staff.
At St. Mary’s, for example, we had separate departments for physical therapy, occupational therapy and social work. In the new building, though, we have interdisciplinary teams in each unit. Care teams are better integrated which is a win for everyone, especially patients and clients.
The design of our exterior therapy spaces allows patients and clients to challenge their mobility, safely, on a range of surfaces: gravel, cobblestone, wooden latches, and stairs. Every unit has a courtyard where patients and clients can go outside and visit with their friends and family and enjoy fresh air and sunshine. We have raised garden beds that enable therapeutic gardening. The doorways in the palliative care unit are wide enough to allow a bed to be easily moved outside for fresh air and a view of the water.
These improvements are all by design: the vision for this building, before shovels ever went in the ground, was that it would “inspire and instill hope” in our patients “helping them to demonstrate their abilities and celebrate their successes.”
Nowhere is this more evident than in our on-unit dining rooms. Here patients see, support, and motivate one another. They share struggles and achievements, grow a sense of community, and travel the long road to recovery and transition together.
How do you tame a lion? One day at a time. Sharing hope with others who are hurting and doing it in the most supportive environment possible makes all the difference.
Every day we are grateful to the community that helped to build this hospital. There are so many things we can do now that we couldn’t before, or things we do better than ever. But that doesn’t mean all the needs have gone away. The facility may be fresh and new but up-to-date tools and training will always be required.
At any given time we have more than 200 people in wheelchairs. Trying to replace and maintain that fleet is a constant challenge. Getting the right patient in the right chair with the right support—and staying abreast of the technology and the training that supports the use of all of our state-of-the-art equipment—is what it will take to remain a centre of excellence.
Our brand new building stands as a beacon to the community of what a 21st century hospital can and should be. We don’t want to be alone in this. It is time for our friends and colleagues at Providence Manor, our long-term care home, to experience the benefits of a modern building designed to provide exceptional care.
Those of us who work in health care understand that setting and achieving tough goals takes time and a lot of hard work. But we never lose faith thanks to the countless examples we’ve seen of the spirit of generosity moving through this community.
Whatever must be built, will be built because of donors like you who believe in the inherent worth of those who need care, the excellence of those who provide it, and the positive difference a care environment built to “inspire and instill hope” can make.
The University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) holiday campaign: Hope for the Hurting runs from November to December and is aiming to raise funds to support the next phase of healthcare redevelopment in Kingston which includes rebuilding Providence Manor.
Transforming healthcare through philanthropy begins with exceptional care and the inspiring stories that result from it. For more information or to donate visit www.uhkf.ca.