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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 09/06/2018

A Welcome Home

A Welcome Home

Katherine Dawkins is back on her feet—and back in her home of 48 years. Just a few months ago, that simple accomplishment seemed impossible. Katherine was facing multiple medical problems and had suffered a series of dangerous complications.

Katherine and her family turned to FutureCare Capital Region in Landover, MD to help her regain her strength and reclaim her independence. FutureCare Capital Region is a state-of-the-art facility featuring world-class equipment, an expansive Rehabilitation Services Center, and private and semi-private rooms. Opened in April 2018, the new facility also features a dialysis suite with nine chairs capable of treating up to 57 patients. FutureCare Health operates 15 Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing centers across the Baltimore/Washington area, providing patients with clinical expertise, resources and support to help them transition back to independence. FutureCare Pineview serves the D.C. Metropolitan region, offering short-stay rehabilitation, cardiac and stroke rehabilitation, and ventilator and dialysis care just a few miles from the Nation’s capital.

A native of South Carolina, Katherine met her husband Freddie when they were children. “We lived one street apart in Gaffney, South Carolina,” she recalled. “We started first grade together and graduated together in 1957. I really have known him all my life.”

Shortly after graduation, Katherine and Freddie wed. They will celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary this year. The couple went on to have three children, and they now have seven grandchildren.

The Dawkins moved to Washington, D.C., seeking job opportunities a few years after they married. Katherine got a job with the federal government. She worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Labor during her 33 years of federal service. Freddie worked for the D.C. government and also achieved 33 years of service.

Katherine and Freddie both retired in 1994, but they continued to live independently in their beloved home in Capital Heights. “We’ve lived in our home for 48 years. We moved there in 1970,” Katherine said. “That is where all my children were raised and my grandchildren.”

When Katherine’s health began to deteriorate rapidly, the Dawkins family knew they needed help. A series of health complications, led Katherine to the hospital. She was discharged but ended up returning. After visiting another hospital and again being discharged, Katherine went to her family physician, who sent her to a third hospital.This hospital ultimately concluded that Katherine had suffered a mild stroke and was also experiencing severe complications from shingles. Since Katherine was unable to walk unassisted or speak clearly at this point, the doctors suggested rehabilitation.

Shortly after FutureCare Capital Region opened, Katherine became one of the community’s first residents. “I came here in a wheelchair, and I was really out of it. I could walk a little, but I needed assistance. I had to ring for a nurse to help with everything,” Katherine recalled.

During her 2-week stay at FutureCare, Katherine gradually regained her strength. “Initially, I did a lot of exercises from the wheelchair,” she said. “I had both physical and occupational therapy. I used bikes and steps and all types of walking devices; I even did some video gaming. There was a lot of variety.”

Katherine’s son, Clarence, noted that her treatments panned many disciplines. “She also received some speech therapy. The assistance she received was really comprehensive. Before she came here, she was only existing. She couldn’t do anything independently.”

Katherine participated in FutureCare’s comprehensive, short-stay rehabilitation program called VitalStrong. VitalStrong is designed to get patients home faster and stronger. The program provides state-of-the-art clinical and rehabilitation services and includes progressive technology and clinical oversight by a physiatrist.

A truly modern facility, FutureCare Capital Region features equipment for patients with varying degrees of functionality. Mahima Dhumak, the community’s Director of Rehabilitation, explained that innovative equipment like the anti-gravity treadmill and the gait analyzer help patients regain mobility faster. In fact, throughout the community, residents will find equipment that is both modern and practical—that makes getting better easier.

“FutureCare Capital Region is an incredibly innovative community featuring a truly perfect design for a long-term care facility,” explained Administrator David Pipkin. “This is the dream community that has been thirty years in the making.”

Katherine benefited from the innovative equipment and the exceptional staff at FutureCare Capital Region. “Everybody who came into my room was friendly and accommodating,” she said. “I had so many needs, and they accommodated them all.”

Kia Howard, an occupational therapist, worked with Katherine to improve her ability to take care of herself. “We worked on upper body strength, balance and endurance,” Kia noted.

In addition to occupational therapy, Katherine also participated in physical therapy. Physical Therapist Gail Goddard used a variety of activities and exercises to help Katherine improve her lower body strength.

“Mrs. Dawkins was initially using a walker, but she progressed to a cane,” Gail said. “She was always willing to challenge herself. She was very motivated to get better.”

“It was amazing to see her progress on a daily basis.Of course, she had good days and bad days, but we could see steady progress,” added Clarence. “We were very impressed with the staff and the care they provided.”

Clarence and his siblings also appreciated how the staff communicated with them regarding their mother’s condition. “We never had to chase after them to get our questions answered,” he explained. “We knew about her medications and her condition. The care was constant, and it was consistent, so we didn’t need to worry.”

Katherine also felt the staff members were very good at keeping her updated on her treatment plan. And they did it with a positive attitude.

“Everyone here—from the receptionist to the therapists to the director of the facility—has always been extremely pleasant,” Clarence concluded. “They are genuine people, and they genuinely care, and that made all the difference in the world.”

When Katherine arrived at FutureCare Capital Region, she was unable to walk without assistance. She wasn’t eating or talking, and she couldn’t get out of bed. FutureCare welcomed her.

With the assistance of the professionals on staff, Katherine grew stronger and healthier every day until she was able to return to her long-time home and continue living independently. Her family was thrilled to welcome her home. And she certainly welcomed the opportunity to cross her threshold on her own two feet.

By Christy Brudin

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