After undergoing surgery for a broken hip, Ginger Trapanotto wanted nothing more than to return to her Brunswick County, North Carolina, home where she could recover in familiar surroundings.
But her orthopedic surgeon recommended she spend a couple weeks at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital at Little River, an affiliate of Encompass Health, where she would receive three hours of physical and occupational therapy five days per week to help her rebuild her strength.
“I didn’t want to go. At first, I argued and said ‘no,’” says the 73-year-old retired federal government employee who volunteers at various community organizations. “But my doctor was very insistent that I had to go, and he was very insistent that I had to go to Tidelands.”
In good hands
Despite her initial resistance, Trapanotto arrived at the inpatient rehabilitation hospital on May 18. From the moment she arrived, she knew she was in good hands.
“Everyone, and I really mean everyone, who came into my room to help me – all of the nurses and nurse technicians down to the people who cleaned, were friendly, courteous and caring,” she wrote in a letter to Carey Swanson, the hospital’s CEO. “I tell everyone about how wonderful Tidelands is and how, if they or anyone they know needs to go to a rehab, it definitely should be Tidelands.”
Trapanotto says she followed the guidance of her therapists at the hospital and came away stronger than before she broke her hip. She was determined to prove to her caregivers — and herself — that she could do it.
“I can never say enough or do enough to let everyone know what a difference the people who work there made in my life,” she says.
A challenging transition
By her own admission, Trapanotto wasn’t the best patient at first. In her letter, she writes she was “very obnoxious” on her first day in the facility, which led her to personally apologize to the staff.
Bill Harvey, one of Trapanotto’s occupational therapists, says some patients are highly motivated to participate in rehab while others need a bit more encouragement.
WATCH: Walking again, man pens heartfelt song to honor care teamRead Article
“I try to see what’s in their room – if the patient has something with a team logo or maybe a T-shirt from a vacation spot,” he says. “My goal is to find shared connections or subjects that will help us build a relationship and trust with each other.”
Both Harvey and physical therapy William Jollye forged a connection with Trapanotto, leading her through rehab exercises that would help her return home safely.
“After I came home, my home-health therapists were so impressed. They said I was really prepared to come home,” says Trapanotto.
A show of appreciation
To show her appreciation, Trapanotto also bought lunch for the entire staff a couple of weeks after her discharge from the hospital on May 29.
“That was really great of her,” Jollye says. “Any time a patient reaches out, even if they just send letter back, it’s great. It’s definitely motivation to continue what you’ve been doing and reassures you that you’ve been doing the right thing.”
Harvey agrees, saying feedback lets you know you’re helping people.
“Our goal is to provide skilled services to help people improve, so when you hear back from patients that they’re doing well, it really validates why you went into this line of work,” he says.