Great place to recover | VailDaily.com

Great place to recover

Cathy Keil
Vail, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

I recently had surgery: total hip replacement due to degenerative joint disease in both of my hips. As many of you know, there is no inpatient rehabilitation center in Eagle County or for that matter, anything closer than Denver or Grand Junction. I live alone and could not go home. I decided to go to Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale when I was released from the hospital.

I had my surgery on a Thursday and insurance advised the hospital that I was ready to leave on Monday. That Monday, a driver from Heritage Park picked me up from Valley View Hospital. I was a little nervous, since I didn’t know what to expect. The staff there greeted me and, luckily, I had my own room for my two-and-a-half week stay during my transition between the hospital and home.

I was one of the youngest residents there, except for another woman from Gypsum around my age. The average age appeared to be from mid 70s and up, and most of them were women.

Besides the two of us mentioned above, three other Eagle County residents were there, working very hard so that they could go home soon, after having medical complications from surgery.

The rehabilitation center, which includes physical therapists and occupational therapists, was amazing. They all worked hard to get me strong and healthy again. These are not your every day OT/PT therapists. These are therapists who work hard with mostly elderly residents. The therapists were so compassionate and gave the residents hugs, held their hands and even ran their fingers through their hair to make them look nicer and feel better. I was lucky to be able to roll out of my room with my walker and down the hall to the rehabilitation center.

Then there was the care in general. The nurses were very caring and all the aides and other workers were also working very hard. These workers I noticed were spread very thin as so many of these residents there require so much attention, sometimes a few at the same time.

I also noticed too that some of the CNAs came back on their nights off to visit with the residents. One night as I was strolling down the hall with my walker before bedtime, and I ran into a gentleman in his 40s holding a lady’s hand. He said he was a volunteer who visits the residents in the evening and was there to hold the hand of an elderly lady who had trouble going to sleep at night.

The administrative personnel were extremely helpful and I appreciate all they did for me.

The activities coordinators were so loving and compassionate with the residents and worked hard getting them to participate in activities and getting them involved to help fill their day. There were different things going on every day that they could look forward to. Even the maintenance workers at Heritage Park checked the rooms to see if things were okay and talked and joked with the residents.

Although Eagle County doesn’t have such a facility at this time, I wanted to let people know that this is an option for anyone in transition between hospital and home. I admit, it does take a little getting used to, but I don’t know what I would have done without this option for 24-hour care during my transition. Not only was the physical therapy so important for my recovery, but being able to have my blood drawn daily to make sure things were in sync, monitoring my meds, and having three balanced meals that so important in my recovery.

I would like to urge any Eagle County resident who would like to volunteer for something very rewarding, to take a drive to Carbondale to visit the Heritage Park Care Center. There is a huge need for volunteers, as a lot of these residents need attention. Sometimes it takes the whole staff to help with one resident who may be having a difficult situation. Stop by and hold someone’s hand for a while, visit and converse. These people need hugs and love. A good majority of these residents hope to be going home someday but that, in many cases, will not happen. This is their safe haven.

When I’ve recovered, I plan to go back to visit. I hope this will inspire someone to drive to Carbondale, where there are good restaurants and shops, and stop by for a visit with these loving sweet residents and staff at the Heritage Park Care Center.

Cathy Keil

Edwards