It was the evening of August 29, and Hurricane Ida, a category 4 storm, was in full force. The team at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital had pulled all patients out of their rooms and away from the windows due to high wind speeds and tornados in the area. The staff remained in control, checking on and comforting patients.
In the midst of the chaos, one woman, Frances Barker, remained calm. This was more familiar to her than for others. Sixteen years prior, she was in this very hospital on this very day, as a first responder during Hurricane Katrina. “I never would have dreamed I’d be back here, as a patient on the same day 16 years later.”
Prior to that fateful night, Frances, 80, was living with family and getting around independently with a rolling walker. One day while visiting with her daughter and granddaughter, she missed a step and fell, breaking her hip. She was transferred to St. Tammany Hospital where she underwent hip surgery. After surgery, she remembers thinking “How am I going to get through this? How am I going to get to move again?” After stabilizing, it was recommended that she go to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Frances chose Northshore Rehabilitation hospital after receiving a recommendation from her doctor as well as a friend. “I knew I needed to get to therapy to help me get moving again, but I didn’t know it was going to make this much of a difference.”
Frances’ goal was a clear one from the start -- to get home. She credits her therapists for working with her and continually helping her do a little more each day. “On my first day of therapy, when the therapist first started working with me, I felt like I had to finish fast. I did my first exercise quickly. And the therapist said, ‘You finished that quickly and you still have 40 minutes left to do more.’” Frances also found that the unique and creative activities built into her therapy schedule really helped reach a higher level of recovery.
Frances worked with her occupational therapists on standing activities to improve her balance. They worked on increasing her strength so she could get in and out of her bed or chair as well as perform daily living activities with independence. In physical therapy, Frances focused on walking by using repetition and slowly increasing her distance as her strength improved. Frances credits her therapists and the many activities they did to help her return home safely.
Frances’ last few days of therapy really brought everything together -- just in time to meet her goal of going home to her family. When asked if she had a pivotal moment, she shared, “If I could go back in time and change how things happened, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would want to do this the same way. When my daughter was encouraging me to come here she said, ‘Momma, you are going to make some new friends there.’ And you know what? I have.”
She described her overall stay at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital as a very positive one. “You made me feel safe. Even during a bad hurricane. It has been great.”