Patients, former caregivers reunite at Christus St. Patrick Hospital

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

After suffering complications from a routine knee surgery, Judith Cooper lost her ability to walk. She sought rehabilitation

services at Christus St. Patrick Hospital and said she is “forever grateful” for the care she received.

“They gave me new life,” she said. “I was in bad shape before I came here.”

Cooper was among about 30 patients who reunited with their former caretakers on Sunday in commemoration of St. Patrick’s Day

and the hospital’s 105th anniversary.

Cooper said she had not seen her former physical therapist since she was discharged from rehabilitation services in February.

“I was anxious to come back and see him today and say thank you again,” she said. “It’s emotional for me to be here. Because

of him my life started over again.”

She said she had developed a bond with him after spending more than five hours a day for 18 days learning how to walk again.

Dustin Bernard, Cooper’s physical therapist, said he was excited to see his former patient walk into the reunion party with

a cane instead of a walker.

“It’s a very rewarding profession to know that I’m actually helping someone and getting them independent again,” he said.

Former patient Frank Nelson said while he was in the hospital for a kidney infection, his wife was not answering his phone

calls at home. He said his nurse went to his home to check on her and found that she had died.

“My nurse went above and beyond the call of duty,” he said. “I thought that was so nice of her to go to my home to see if

my wife was OK.”

While in the hospital, Nelson had to re-learn how to walk, talk and even swallow.

“It really did me in,” he said.

Through it all, Nelson said the hospital has become a second home for him.

Lee Wyatt, recreation therapist and discharge planner at the hospital, said Sunday wasn’t just a reunion but a “celebration

of life.”

“While the patients have been away from us, our hope is that they kept getting stronger and more independent,” Wyatt said.

“This is the time we meet with them and tell them they’re looking good.”