Family Health West Celebrates A Miracle

Fruita, CO – August 4, 2010 – Over a year ago, Ernie Gurganious was admitted to the Family Health West Nursing Home after suffering a severe head injury. The prognosis did not look good as he was unable to function normally. Ernie had to use an enclosure bed in order to safely sleep. Fast forward to the present where Ernie is not only transporting himself around the facility for his therapy, he is about to be discharged from the Nursing Home, “This is almost unheard of,” said Wade, McDowell, Nursing Home Administrator, “His recovery and discharge from the Nursing Home is a miracle! Ernie has worked extremely hard. Our entire team of CNAs, nurses, and therapists is proud to have been here for this part of Ernie’s life.”
The staff at Family Health West will hold a “Going Away” party for Ernie as he enters the Life Adjustment Program (LAP), a service provided by Hilltop. LAP was created in 1985 in response to a growing need to meet ongoing residential needs for traumatic brain injury survivors.
“We are proud of Ernie and his amazing progress,” said Carolyn Lowdermilk, Social Worker for Family Health West, “We are also proud of our staff that were all invested in Ernie’s recovery.” The discharge has been a long process with the first conversation with Ernie beginning 3 months ago, “The first conversation resulted in Ernie dropping his head and saying ‘I don't want to go’”, added Lowdermilk, “Ernie was afraid to leave the familiar and loving relationships that he had established on the floor. We finally convinced him to try the LAP day program, thanks to Administration for seeing that a slow transition as the only way to get Ernie to his next step.” The first visit for Ernie was a success as he came back to the facility excited about the idea, “Ernie, knowing it was time for him to go, addressed several staff members stating ‘I gotta go’”, smiled Lowdermilk, “The staff here is amazing. They not only cared for Ernie they established a real relationship with him. This is truly a bitter, sweet success story!”
Errol Snider, COO attributes a small part of Ernie’s success to Family Health West’s Continuum of Care which ensures that patients remain at Family Health West as their health care needs change. “The patient feels secure in knowing that their needs can be met without the undue stress and anxiety of moving to an unfamiliar place. In this case, the nursing home nurses worked with the outpatient therapists, while the transportation department went the extra mile to transport Ernie wherever he needed to be to recover,” added Snider.
Ernie’s family is excited about his future, “It’s exciting because where he was before, they didn’t give us any hope that he would recover,” said Trish Gurganious, Ernies’ daughter-in-law, “They said he’d never be able to walk, or talk, or anything again but after being at Family Health West, his speech has improved immensely. He may not walk 100%, but we couldn’t’ have asked for a better outcome than what we have gotten.”