Articles

Fire Drill or Rehab?

ST. RITA’S TURNS 100

From St. Rita’s Medical Center

source: http://www.limaohio.com/features/lifestyle/288026/fire-drill-or-rehab

 February 28, 2018

With the celebration of 100 years of changing lives at St. Rita’s Medical Center, we have taken some time to recall a few of those memories. Tom Lane, an athletic trainer at St. Rita’s, shared, “I was with a patient who was a firefighter and fell through a two-story roof onto his head, knocking himself out. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, was treated for quite some time at St. Rita’s and was then released. After he was finished with outpatient therapy, he wanted to go back to firefighting, so he began working with the athletic trainers in sports medicine. Once his strength and endurance increased and became more functional, we had to make the program more challenging for him.”

To challenge the patient, the trainers had him wear his firefighting gear in the gym during rehab. Then, the trainers created an oxygen tank filled with sand to simulate the air he would be carrying during an emergency with his equipment during a fire. Throughout the program designed for him, the patient would walk up and down the stairs of the hospital with full gear on and after that he would go outside to cool down. This was challenging, yet functional for him as a firefighter. The patient did the program for over a month.

“One day I was with him and a staff member from one of the physician offices in the 830 Building came in the side-entrance door during therapy. I said hello and she went upstairs. About 10 minutes later, ironically, the fire alarm goes off and the whole 830 Building goes outside,” says Lane. The fire trucks roll in and the patient and Tom go outside. “Dr. [Gary] Schniegenberg jokingly says to me, ‘Tom, you must be responsible for this fire drill.’” As it turns out, the staff member who came in during the rehabilitation session saw the patient in his firefighting gear and mistook his presence as a sign of a fire in the building and asked why there was a firefighter but no fire engines around. Members of St. Rita’s called 911, assuming there was a fire in the building.

“In the end our patient got better, his neurosurgeon cleared him to go back to work, a great success story of his recovery was told, and a funny story was made during his recovery. Sometimes I go out that entrance when I travel to my high school. I just shake my head and smile about this incident. Dr. Schniegenberg, on the other hand, never let me live it down.”

This is part of a monthly series of stories submitted by St. Rita’s Medical Center marking the 100th anniversary of the hospital.