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Finding a PATH® to well-being after a medical emergency

Pat Altwegg still isn’t sure exactly what happened in the first week of June. She knows that she passed out and saw only white. After trying to secure a bed in area hospitals, she ended up at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.

“I don’t remember much of it, because I wasn’t conscious,” Pat said. “I don’t know how many days it was. My husband and daughter tracked where I was going. I know they came to get me and take me to Clay Center Presbyterian Manor, and I was relieved to be coming back to my home area. When they said I was going home, I didn’t feel scared. Before then, I was frightened.”

Once at Presbyterian Manor, staff — including the Aegis therapists in the Post-Acute to Home® (PATH) program — started developing a care plan for Pat, with a goal of restoring her to full mobility and function.

“I was in critical care,” Pat said. “I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t hardly talk. They made this home for me and got me settled. And that sort of brought me back to life. They helped me walk, and they had me in therapy. And it couldn’t have been any better. My family was nearby. It was a miracle.”

She’s shown remarkable progress in the months since her medical event.

“When Pat first came here, she was so debilitated that the caregivers and us had to use a total lift to transfer her from one position to another,” said Russ Geyer, a therapist with Aegis. “Within four or five days, she was up transferring with a walker.”

Russ and fellow therapist Laura Gibbs explained how they work closely with each patient to develop a plan that meets the individual’s needs. They work to understand the patient’s current level of mobility and function as well as what life was like before the incident.

“What Laura and I do, we work very closely with the patient,” Russ said. “We understand what movement she has, and we encourage whatever movement she can do — and to do as much as they can themselves.”

“We try to find out about the patient’s past history,” Laura said. “Their past occupations, what they like to do, and we try to bring some of those elements into our therapy treatment. We try to do things that are familiar to them — and it’s motivating, because it doesn’t seem like exercise.”

They also credited Wellness Instructor Kristen Pedigo for her role in Pat’s recovery.

“She gives residents the opportunity to work on daily living skills and mobility and gives them something to look forward to,” Laura said. “She is very creative by facilitating special programs to make things fun ... She started a walking club and is planning an upcoming activity with a football theme.”

The goal of PATH is to return patients to the mobility and function they had before a medical event that requires hospitalization. Through PATH, doctors, caregivers, family members and social workers collectively design a treatment plan and follow up with assessments to ensure the patient is on track.

“Our goal is to return the patient to prior function, if possible,” Russ said.

“Even if the patient is not able to return home, we still try to get them to be as functional as possible and as safe as possible,” Laura said. “It’s a win if they can return to doing anything they want to do on their own.”

In Pat’s case, she can see just how far she’s come in a relatively short time thanks to the help and care she received at Clay Center Presbyterian Manor. Yet Russ and Laura emphasize that Pat’s attitude and determination played a large role in her progress.

“I was frightened,” Pat said. “The way I was, I was just a blob. You have so much you’d like to regain back — to think that even today I’ve come that far. When I first arrived, I just prayed to God that he’d take me, because I couldn’t live that lifestyle. But there was something that told me everything would be OK. It was a spiritual experience for me.”

In Pat’s case, Russ and Laura said, she’s been able to move from the health care area to assisted living and “she is free to go out with her husband Bob and they can do what they want.”

“This week, we’re going to see Big Boy in Abilene,” Pat said about an early September trip to see the famous steam locomotive. “It’s in Kansas now, and will be rolling through.”

For more information about the PATH program, contact Dani Pounds Kuhlman at 785-632-5646 or

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