Louisville, Colorado, resident Penny Harris had enough to deal with due to her lupus before wildfire broke out in Boulder County. The Marshall Fire spread rapidly, and Penny was one of tens of thousands of residents ordered to evacuate their homes.
As a result of the displacement, Penny was confined to her wheelchair for two days and developed weakness and skin issues. She came to Life Care Center of Longmont, Colorado, for rehabilitation, on Jan. 4, dependent for all care, mobility, dressing and grooming.
The fire hit during the country’s Omicron variant wave of COVID, and for the first four weeks of her stay, Penny was afraid to leave her room. Physical and occupational therapists did treatment sessions with her in her room, starting with sitting balance and functional tasks. Slowly, she began to rebuild strength and independence.
When Penny was comfortable enough to try the therapy gym, she started working on building up her strength for transfers, such as from a bed to a wheelchair or wheelchair to a chair.
“Penny had laser focus on her goal of returning to her home independently,” said Annie Bennett, physical therapist. “She was willing to work as hard as she could, each session, to reach that goal.”
Thankfully, Penny’s house was not destroyed by the fire. She went home on April 6, independent in her bed mobility, transfers, wheelchair mobility, dressing and preparing meals.
“Each of the therapy staff showed a genuine interest in making me better, including with my physical ability and my mental ability, during my journey to go home,” Penny shared. “They all believed in me. I’ve been in other therapy departments, and yours has exceeded all. I looked forward to each therapy session like never before. Annie was a great coach and motivated me like nobody else could. They never gave up on me, no matter what.”