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Fresh Air Magazine

Remarkable Recovery

Margie Reed walked down the halls of the respiratory care center like she owned the place. Smartly dressed and moving with purpose, the petite 80-year-old smiled and hugged and talked as if at a family reunion.


“She’s a sassy one,” her daughter, Linda, said. “She doesn’t know a stranger.”

While that may be true, those she hugged on this day were anything but strangers. They are members of the care team that a few months before helped her recover from a life-threatening illness.

It came out of the blue. One day in December 2015, Margie developed an earache. Soon, doctors told her she had meningitis. The Jackson County resident was hospitalized, unable to walk or breathe on her own. She was eventually admitted to Rockcastle Regional’s ventilator care unit in February 2016.

After an evaluation, Rockcastle’s multi-disciplinary care team placed her on an individualized weaning plan. During the next six weeks, they gradually freed her from the ventilator.

“They were so good to me from the first day,” she said of the Rockcastle team. “I took to them right away.”

She and her daughter give the staff credit.

For example, “Jeff (Tyree, physical therapy assistant) would encourage me a whole lot, even though I whined a little,” Margie recounted in her native New England accent.

“The care was excellent,” Linda said. “We were very impressed. The people were all amazing.”

But the staff gives the credit to Margie (indicating that if there was whining, it couldn’t have been much) and her family.

“Her family support was awesome,” said Judy Cromer, RN. “They visited often and were so encouraging. Margie’s positive attitude was really important for her recovery; we were amazed at how she never let herself get depressed.”

But Margie will let you in on a secret. It’s much easier to be positive when you’re confident of the direction you're headed.

“I got happy,” she recalled, “because I knew I was getting better.”

Of those patients deemed to have any chance of weaning upon admission to Rockcastle Regional, Margie was one of the 38 percent who do.

“Weaning is the goal,” said Jeff Smithern, director of respiratory therapy. “That’s what we’re always striving for.”

Since being discharged in April, Margie has fully recovered except for partial hearing loss. She pushes her own grocery cart and does housework.

She even went to the beach this summer with her family.

Asked to describe her mother, Linda said, “She is energetic, thoughtful, caring and happy.”

Now, Linda could also add, “healthy.”

Respiratory Care Center

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