Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stroke Recovery Requires Group Effort

“It’s been an exciting morning,” Eleanor Hazel greets her visitor at the door with kind eyes and characteristic understatement. It seems that earlier this afternoon, a pair of helicopters landed on
the Hazels’ lawn, causing more than a little speculation. Family and farmhands came running, imagining that Medivac had been summoned for an emergency.

“But it was a couple of friends, came by to say hello,” deadpans Bill Hazel. The last time the helicopters arrived, in autumn 2009, his friends and family were there, too, but the situation was a
matter of life and death.

“I was sitting in a chair in there,” Hazel recalls, using his strong right arm to indicate the living room. “My friend John Mayhugh was here with me. He said, ‘Hey, you’re having a stroke. Your speech is slurred.’ He told me to raise my left arm, and I couldn’t.”

Mayhugh placed two calls in quick succession. The first was to 911 emergency services, which arrived in minutes to airlift Hazel to an acute stroke center in Arlington. The other call was to
the eldest of the Hazels’ five children, William A. Hazel Jr., M.D., who serves as Virginia’s secretary of Health and Human Resources. “He was at the hospital almost before I was,” says Hazel.

“They Never Missed a Day Coming”
Hazel spent three months in a primary stroke center in Northern Virginia, finally returning home on Christmas Eve. Once back in Warrenton, the family knew that speech therapy, physical therapy and
treatment for a deep cut in his leg were all priorities. Hazel needed care around the clock, including both home health and outpatient rehabilitation.

Help was closer to home than they ever imagined. The first order of business was to heal the deep cut in his leg so he could begin physical therapy. Just weeks before Hazel suffered his stroke, Fauquier Health had opened a state-of-the-art Wound Healing Center. The center’s medical director, Robert Dart, M.D., examined the leg wound and worked out an effective treatment plan that did not
require further surgery.

“They did it all here,” Hazel says. “The wound in my leg had to be dressed every five or six days, so they came out and brought everything they needed with them. The snow was on the ground, but they never missed a day coming. The nurses that came were all from Fauquier Health Home Care
Services. The main thing I want to say is how well they treated me and how dependable they were.”

That dedication clearly means a lot, and not just to the Hazel family. Fauquier Health Home Care Services is the proud recipient of the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and in 2009 was ranked among the top 25 percent of home health care providers in the country by HomeCare Elite.

Hazel adds, “The other thing that’s been good has been the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The
therapists fired me up and got me going. I see a lot of people in there who start worse off than I am, but when they leave they walk out on their own two feet.”

Essential Partners
A year after his stroke, Bill Hazel retains only a slight lag in his speech, a pause as he collects his strength between ideas. It’s a reminder of how much he and his family have been through this year and how far they’ve come together.

“They say pretty soon I’ll be walking by myself,” says Hazel. “This is a life changing event, big time, but I can talk and I can write, and I can think. I know what’s going on around me.”

One gets the impression that Bill Hazel approaches his rehabilitation in much the same way he built the largest total site development business in Northern Virginia: with a powerful work ethic, open communication, multidisciplinary teamwork and strong family values.

That emphasis on teamwork and communication is at the heart of Fauquier Health’s Planetree philosophy of patient-centered care, which views family and friends as essential partners during a
long recovery following a life-changing event like stroke. “My daughters are my ‘patient navigators,’” says Hazel. “They’ve done a good job of keeping my medicine and my appointments straight.” Daughter Jeannie Soltesz of Leesburg is a frequent companion during Hazel’s trips to Fauquier Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation.

“I just want people to know how much I think of the system over here at Fauquier and how nice the people have been to me,” Hazel sums up. “They came every day, right on time, right on schedule and went straight to work.”

Just like any good family business.


Cardiac Care Centre said...

Missing them is very sad

Global Hospitals said...

Very sad to know about Hazel condition

Artery Clearance Therapy said...

Really sad condition.