“There’s no try—there’s only DO.”

By Ryan McBride

Deer Lodge Centre’s expanded Inpatient Rehabilitation Program is helping one Winnipeg woman regain her independence after losing a leg to an illness.

Marita Wilson was transferred to the unit from another facility before Halloween, following what she dryly refers to as “an eventful summer” that included the amputation of her left leg and another surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. When her doctors told her she’d be coming to Deer Lodge for a month of rehab, she admits she was surprised.

“I thought Deer Lodge was a care home. I knew nothing about their rehab program.”

Deer Lodge Centre’s inpatient rehab program, which recently expanded to an 88-bed capacity, serves patients 65 and older who need a little extra help recovering from an acute condition such as a hip fracture, heart attack, stroke, or major surgery. “They’re through the worst when they come here, but they’re not ready to go home yet,” says Sheena Warkentin, Clinical Service Leader, Occupational Therapy at Deer Lodge.

Patients spend about a month in Deer Lodge’s unit on Lodge 2 and Lodge 4, where they receive a combination of occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech therapy. Treatment includes one-on-one sessions with a therapist and assistants, group treatment, and recreational activities—including exercises in Deer Lodge’s spacious, state-of-the-art gymnasium. “Our whole team works together to improve strength, balance, endurance and cognition. It’s about improving the whole person,” says Sheena.

For Marita, treatment includes learning to rise from her wheelchair on her one leg, pivot, and sit in a chair. She’s already learned to dress herself again, an achievement that makes her especially proud. “It’s all about knowing how to roll over on the bed.”

Regaining the ability to independently perform basic self-care tasks is critical for Marita. In her late 70s, she says she’s “not ready for a nursing home just yet.” Most patients discharged from the inpatient rehab program receive home care support. Many are often referred to outpatient programs such as Day Hospital, PRIME, and community therapy services. Marita’s goal is to qualify for assisted living.

A former English teacher, she admits she knows lots about Yeats and Shakespeare and next to nothing about the medical profession or hospitals—until now. “Everyone from the surgeons and doctors to the health care aides and specialists and hospital cleaning staff—they’re a whole family that works together to help people.”

As she looks ahead to moving on from the unit in the next few weeks, Marita adds, “I was feeling pretty helpless when I arrived here. But this place gave me hope. Now I’m getting my groove back.”

And that’s all because of the phenomenal staff. “They work very hard with so much grace, patience and calm. But they’re persistent. There is no try — there’s only DO.”