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Kaweah Health's Employee Relief Fund set to end July 3, putting "Hope in Motion"

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: María Rodríguez Ornelas

New campaign will raise funds for equipment to help stroke, spinal cord injury, amputation and various other diagnoses regain mobility.

VISALIA – The community and Kaweah Health employees are approaching their final days to contribute to the Kaweah Health Employee Relief Fund, which is expected to raise approximately $110,000 to help employees who saw a reduction in hours or were furloughed because of the decrease in patient volume due to COVID-19.

“People generously contributed to this fund and thank you, it has meant a lot,” said Gary Herbst, Kaweah Health's Chief Executive Officer, noting that 2,000 of Kaweah Health’s employees contributed to the fund. “I can tell you the reaction from our employees to think that someone did that for them has really been heartfelt.”

With the hospital opening up to elective surgery and other health care services, the Kaweah Health Hospital Foundation will roll out its next campaign Hope in Motion on July 4. It will allow for the purchase of the SafeGait 360 Balance and Mobility Training, a track-and-harness system that assists with balance and fall prevention for patients who are learning to stand or walk again after a stroke, a spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, amputation, and other neurological or neurodegenerative diagnoses. It would be used at Kaweah Health's Rehabilitation Hospital where physical therapists can increase patients’ confidence and reduce their fears of falling. This system’s software tracks patients’ movements, so physical therapists can make adjustments quickly and safely, while letting patients learn to negotiate stairs, transfers and floor exercises.

Walking and standing are two of things many people take for granted and the road is long and hard to recovery when something like a stroke takes away those abilities from people. That’s what happened to David Fleming, a talented graphic designer in our community, who suffered a stroke and was rushed to the Emergency Department. Since then, he’s worked hard to gain his life back.

“There were days when I just wanted to crawl up back in bed. I just wanted to lay back and not do anything, and you just have to force yourself to get up and get to work,” said Fleming, a patient at the Rehabilitation Hospital.

David pushed himself every day to get back to who he was before the stroke-- an effort that didn’t go unnoticed.

“It’s exciting when everyone sees me and sees my progress, and when I hear the therapists talk about my case. It’s just great,” Fleming said.

In part, he credits his progress to the therapists at the Rehabilitation Hospital who have helped him every step of the way.

“These people know what they’re doing, which I had total faith in to begin with, but I just gained more faith in myself that I could do this.”

The role of helping patients, like David, get back to enjoying their lives to the fullest is the therapists’ priority, but having the resources to facilitate the process is invaluable. Learning to walk again can be challenging, both for patient and physical therapist. When a stroke, amputation or accident mean we have to re-learn those activities, Kaweah Health staff can put hope in motion.

“The Hope in Motion campaign will allow us to take our therapy, specifically our stroke rehab as we are a stroke specialty center, to the next level. The SafeGait 360, will also benefit a lot of other diagnoses such as amputation, people recovering from debilitation, multi-trauma accidents and any other type of neurological disease,” said Tara Norman, Therapy Supervisor at the Rehabilitation Hospital.”

Physical therapists, too, can benefit from this equipment, as they are less likely to be hurt catching a fall, which gives them the opportunity to expand their intervention strategies. They won’t have to be on guard for falls, the most likely time for work-related injury to occur, which will also mean fewer staff are needed to work with one person, opening up for other patients. Data provided by the system will also be available to help physical therapists evaluate their treatment plans.

The Kaweah Health Hospital Foundation was created in 1979 to help Kaweah Health achieve excellence in patient care through fundraising from the hospital family and the community. The nonprofit 501(c) (3) Foundation, with its elected board of directors, has raises funds in support of Kaweah Health through personal solicitation, grants, special events, direct mail, and social media appeals as well as through future, planned gifts such as bequests.