STORIES OF HOPE
Helen Hayes Hospital Foundation is committed to addressing the needs of the hospital that are not met by traditional funding. This includes state-of-the-art equipment, cutting edge technology, seed money for research, support groups, adaptive sports, educational programs and staff development, community outreach and services that promote exceptional physical and rehabilitative medicine.
Mary Bianco was excited about entering a new chapter in her life – she was retiring from Helen Hayes Hospital after 20 years of service as a patient and family relations advocate. She could never have guessed that just a few weeks later she would suffer a severe brain hemorrhage, requiring emergency surgery and extensive critical care. Through the sheer power of her immense heart and spirit and the caring staff at Helen Hayes Hospital, she not only survived but has thrived. Once medically stabilized, Mary was admitted to the brain injury unit at Helen Hayes Hospital. She wasn’t moving, was dependent in all aspects of care, had trouble seeing and left side and facial weakness made it hard for her to talk. Her swallowing ability was so impaired that she required a feeding tube. This formerly vibrant and active lady – a painter, a lover of the performing arts, someone who gave voice to so many in need - now seemed so inert lying in her bed. However, little did we know, the wheels were turning full speed on the inside. She quickly became more wakeful and vigorously took to therapy, resuming her patient advocate role- and began voicing multiple suggestions on how to make our patients more comfortable and secure. Mary’s feeding tube was removed and she went home walking with just a cane. She can now speak clearly and is living independently
Dan Brady suffered life changing spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries when he lost control of his motorcycle heading home from a friend’s house – leaving him in a coma and paralyzed from the shoulders down. From the moment Dan emerged from coma, he was fighting to regain his independence. During his daily therapy sessions, he pushed himself to improve on whatever areas he could, never giving up hope for progress. He set personal goals and strived to achieve them. Even in the midst of his toughest days, Dan always took the time to stop and talk with other patients. He started each day with a smile and finished each day with bringing a smile to others. Slowly, Dan was once again able to perform the activities of daily living. Upon discharge, he began outpatient therapy at Helen Hayes Hospital. His goals were to improve hand mobility and transfers and master control of his movement. Dan was so appreciative of the care he received at Helen Hayes Hospital, and most especially the support he received through the peer mentoring service, that he decided to become a certified mentor for the spinal cord injury unit. Today, he actively participates in the hospital’s Adapted Sports & Recreation Program, is considering starting an adaptive sled hockey team and is looking forward to driving again.
Tara Lynch is a young woman with a wealth of skills and abilities, yet many of her talents can be masked by the Cerebral Palsy that limits her ability to move and speak. A triplet who strives to keep up with her siblings, Tara is a typical teenager who craves interactions with her peers, but has extreme difficulty expressing herself, often leaving her frustrated and withdrawn. Tara’s school turned to the Helen Hayes Hospital’s Center for Rehabilitation Technology for help. CRT’s team members are specialists in a wide range of assistive technologies and excel in working with clients who may have multiple and/or severe disabilities. The staff’s rehab technologists, including seating specialists and augmentative communication specialists, created a new communication device for Tara. Once they modified her wheelchair to provide better head and neck support, Tara demonstrated the ability to use her eyes to interact with a customized eye tracking computer system. Custom language was programmed into the computer so that Tara could look at icons on the screen that would speak for her. With Tara’s input, custom pages were created that allow her to communicate with friends and teachers. She can now play computer games, send text messages and control an MP3 Player. With the support of her family, the professionals at her school, and the CRT team at Helen Hayes Hospital, Tara can now enjoy the same activities as her triplet siblings!
At the age of 29, while in Chicago, Jeffrey had a heart attack and massive stroke. He was in a coma. Steve and Christine Cohen had Jeffrey brought back to New York, where he remained in a coma for several weeks in a major city hospital, sustaining fevers of 107 degrees. Doctors offered no hope, saying even if Jeffrey survived the coma and infection, he would sustain severe permanent brain damage and a multitude of other impairments, including loss of sight. That was when they signed a Do Not Resuscitate order. Jeffrey beat the infection and his parents went about finding a rehabilitation facility, even though the physicians advice and prognosis were dire. They weren’t giving up on their son. Jeffrey’s parents turned to Helen Hayes Hospital and Dr. Glenn Seliger, Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Service. Dr. Seliger could see a glimmer of hope, where others saw none. Jeffrey arrived at Helen Hayes Hospital in a coma. Steve Cohen attributes his son’s recovery to the doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists and the rehab team at Helen Hayes Hospital. “They never gave up hope,” he says. Jeffrey walked out of Helen Hayes Hospital using a walker just seven weeks later. Jeff’s parents questioned Dr. Seliger, “Why did you admit Jeffrey when no one else would?” Dr. Seliger replied, “I always give people one chance for hope.” Those are words the Cohen’s will never forget. Now Jeffrey is living in his own apartment in NYC, he goes to work each day and continues to improve both in mind and body.