Local Woman Regains Dignity and Independence at KRMC Acute Rehab
By Kingman Regional Medical Center Staff
Wendy Dunlap had been a caregiver for her late husband while he was suffering from dementia. She is a mother, and she had worked in healthcare and as a police officer. She had spent her life in various roles caring for others. She had not prepared to be the one in need of care.
In September 2014, Dunlap visited Kingman Regional Medical Center’s emergency room with left arm numbness. She quickly learned that her right carotid artery was 98% blocked.
Dunlap was sent to Phoenix, where she underwent surgery to clear the blockage. She then experienced a second stroke. She was left with left-side paralysis, speech articulation issues, problems swallowing, and no independence.
When Dunlap thought of the long recovery that lay ahead of her, she insisted on returning to Kingman for the process.
“I wanted to come back here,” she says, to be close to her home and family. She checked into KRMC’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit (ARU).
What is Acute Rehabilitation?
Acute rehabilitation serves to restore the patient’s ability to live as independently as possible, as quickly as possible. It involves medical treatment along with extensive therapy for patients who are temporarily or permanently disabled from various conditions. It was a series of strokes that brought Dunlap to the ARU; other conditions that may require acute rehab include:
• Brain injury
• Fractured hip or other complex bone fractures
• Major trauma resulting from accidents
• Multiple sclerosis
• Neurological conditions
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Spinal cord injury
Recovery in Progress
When Dunlap began rehabilitation, she came in on a gurney. She could not bear weight or even keep herself upright. Due to some setbacks and health interventions, Dunlap spent a total of seven weeks in the ARU; she says being near her family in that time was invaluable.
In fact, Dunlap attributes much of her recovery success to that support system. Having family and friends close by meant she could look forward to sharing her progress with loved ones. It meant that her great-grandson could remind her to do her exercises. Her daughter visited for lunch every day, and her partner, David Cidila also encouraged her daily. “Depression is a risk after stroke,” says Dunlap, and she could not imagine the aftermath of her stroke without her family.
When reflecting on her experience, Dunlap gushes about her care providers. “I absolutely adore [KRMC Physiatrist] Dr. Ngo.”
In times when Dunlap was quite literally helpless to do anything for herself, the medical professionals and staff and at KRMC’s acute rehab treated her with nothing but respect, she recalls.
“The loss of dignity and privacy hurt worse than anything physical,” she says, but working with her therapists restored that dignity.
Within a week, Dunlap could sit up again. Though her left arm did not move for months, Dunlap strengthened her body, learned to speak understandably, and became able eat normally again. After her seven weeks, she was able to walk with a walker.
Within six months of her stroke, in March of 2015, Wendy Dunlap was driving again. Now, she frequently returns to the Hualapai Mountain Campus for physical therapy appointments and meetings, including the Stroke Support Group that meets in the lobby.
“Doctors may have saved my life, but therapists saved my lifestyle,” she says.
You have a choice for rehabilitation services
If you need inpatient rehabilitation, you can choose to receive that care close to home – even if you’re currently hospitalized out-of-town.
Patients are admitted to KRMC’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit with a physician’s referral. Our services are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid (AHCCCS). Additionally, KRMC provides free patient transportation from hospitals in our region (including Las Vegas and Phoenix).
If you or a family member could benefit from KRMC’s acute rehabilitation services, please call us at (928) 263-5688 for more information.