This I Believe

Melinda - Santa Barbara, California
Entered on March 22, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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As a medical rehabilitation administrator, a concerned citizen, and an Army mother, I believe that the United States of America has the obligation, the ability and the intent to provide the best possible care for its men and women who have been injured and who have come home for the care and caring they deserve.

I am writing as a medical rehabilitation professional with over 25 years of service. I began my career as a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) in 1980, with a B.S. in Nursing and an M.S. in Community Health. Today I am privileged to serve on the leadership team of a not-for-profit free-standing medical rehabilitation facility, offering both acute inpatient rehabilitation and a full array of outpatient services.

I am writing as a community member blessed with the presence of a stellar organization “right here at home” supported by the greater Santa Barbara community. Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara (RISB) provides state of the art rehabilitation services, in 38 acute hospital beds; in Keck Center for Outpatient Services; and in The Tuohy Foundation Aquatic Center. Patients achieve rehabilitation outcomes that meet and often exceed both regional and national benchmarks.

I am also the mother of an Army Special Forces officer and my heartfelt message – grounded in each of these life roles as administrator, community member, and mother – is this:

RISB, and the other 500+ medical rehabilitation units and hospitals throughout the United States staffed with dedicated,

caring, and specialty trained physicians, nurses, and therapists, are ready, willing, and eager to serve these men and women. We would like the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to not only recognize RISB and our colleague providers as a supplemental resource available to injured service personnel and veterans but to also realize that in critical ways “coming home” for rehabilitation is far more effective than recovering at a regional or national Defense Department medical facility.

The rehabilitation process does not happen in a vacuum. No one fully recovers, learns to live with and use their changed body function and image, and returns to productive family and work life, and into society without the love, acceptance and support of those who know them best, those who love and cherish them and who will be there for him/her over the long haul.

The rehabilitation process is not completed in days. It is rather a months-long, sometimes years-long process of steady, mindful therapy and focus on the part of an intimate health care team comprised of professional care providers, family, friends, and the courageous injured person.

It is a huge commitment our society makes – to quality of life – in providing state-of-the-art medical rehabilitation. I say, “As it should be.” How could we do less? Compared to the sacrifice, pain, fear, and loss that these service members have experienced and the just plain hard work and determination they must muster over many months/years to come, how can we do less?

Our plea, and I take the privilege of speaking for my colleagues in medical rehabilitation throughout the country, is: Let us serve. Bring our injured service members home, home to the closest medical rehabilitation facility to their family and friends that has the expertise and quality to meet their needs. Don’t wait to build a new facility or repair an old one. We are ready now.