HARPER FAMILY GETS DOUBLE-BARRELED RECOVERY FROM BRAINTREE REHABILITATION HOSPITAL
Connecticut Resident's Sister & Sister-in-Law Make Strong Recoveries
Just Four Months Apart in Same Facility
BRAINTREE, Mass., March 3, 2010 - "Double trouble" is the perfect phrase to describe what Kate Parker went through last year.
In October 2008, Kate's sister, 58-year-old Gayle Fitzsimmons had a brain aneurysm which began to leak. She was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Worcester, where she remained for eight weeks, severely injured. She ended up stroking repeatedly, which caused a great deal of brain damage; ultimately, this put her into a coma and left her non-communicative. By the end of her hospital stay she was barely able to track movement or follow simple verbal orders.
Just before Gayle's release from her acute-hospital stay, Kate, who lives in Somers, Connecticut, did some research as to where to bring her sister for the next stage of her recovery. She was quite pleased with the presentation she saw from Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital (BRH), particularly the part about the facility's Slow to Recover Program.
"It was a difficult decision for us to go with Braintree because it was a two-hour away from me and three hours from her husband [who lives in Russell, MA]," recalled Parker. "With our work schedules, we knew it would be tough for us to visit on a regular basis. However, we decided that the quality of care was the most important consideration, so Braintree was our choice, despite the distance from home."
The tour of Braintree convinced Parker that her choice was the correct one.
"We were taken on a tour of the facility that lasted almost two hours," she said. "We not only saw all of the hospital's resources, we talked specifically about what Gail's treatment plan would be, the recovery process, and traumatic brain injury in general. We discussed what the next step would be after Braintree. They even gave us a book that told us everything we needed to know. It was very reassuring."
Gayle entered BRH on December 4, 2008. (She ended up going back to the hospital at Christmas, then was readmitted to BRH.) She had been unable to talk when she entered, but said her first word — "yes," in response to a question — exactly one month later, on January 4, 2009.
"What was incredible is that my sister is an artist, and Andrea, her occupational therapist, went on Gayle's Web site before she even met her to learn more about her," Parker said. "She brought in some of Gayle's artwork and used it in her therapy sessions. She looked at her as a person, not just a patient."
Gayle remained at BRH until May 13, 2009. She returned to BRH in November 2009 for a few months of additional therapy, including speech therapy. She now resides in Chicopee at the nursing facility where her sister is an administrator. While she still needs a great deal of care, including assistance in dressing, eating, and bathing, her sister credits BRH with putting Gayle on the right path to recovery.
"Gayle had an incredibly serious brain injury," said Parker. "Twice when she was in the hospital in Worcester, she had to be revived; she nearly died. But because of the people at Braintree, she is initiating more contact, she is gaining more recognition of her surroundings, and is generally more aware. We believe Braintree brought her through the worst and she will continue to move forward."
Unfortunately, Parker got to put Braintree's expertise to the test again when her brother Clark and sister-in-law Eve were visiting from California in August 2009. As she was getting ready to leave, Eve inexplicably fell down a flight of stairs and landed headfirst on a tile floor. Like Gayle, she suffered a massive head injury. Her left side — both her arm and leg — had been affected, although her memory and speech were intact. After almost a month at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, where she underwent a craniotomy to reduce brain swelling, she entered BRH in September 2009 to begin her recovery.
While she was happy that her sister-in-law would be receiving the best possible care, the return to BRH was bittersweet for Kate.
"Some of the employees who recognized me from when my sister was there were wondering why I was back," Parker said. "Obviously, I was not happy with the reason I had to return. But they walked us through what we could expect, what resources were available, just like they did for Gayle. The education they gave us was incredible."
Eve remained at BRH for about two months, after which she was well enough to return home to California, where she is undergoing outpatient therapy three times a week.
"We entrusted not one but two of our family members to Braintree and never regretted it."