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Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is coming on its 1 year anniversary for the Home and Community Services program. Rehabilitation can come directly to your own home, gym or local West Michigan community.

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From the Grand Rapids Press - Sunday, March 13, 2014

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Volunteer Al Bober greets people as they arrive at Mary Free Bed.

Volunteer Al Bober greets people as they arrive at Mary Free Bed.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and every day we are thankful for the many people who graciously share their time and talents with Mary Free Bed. The jobs they perform are too numerous to list. We love them all and are especially excited to have student volunteers learning the importance of giving to others.

“Mary Free Bed would not be the great hospital system it is without the many volunteer hands,” CEO Kent Riddle said. “Volunteers always help energize our patients and staff and we are blessed by their service to others.”

2014 Numbers (through April 1, 2014)
3,582 Hours Worked
114 Volunteers

2013 Numbers
10,290 Hours Worked
252 Volunteers

Learn more about the Volunteer Program at Mary Free Bed

Volunteer Autumn Oostindie works in the therapy gym.

Volunteer Autumn Oostindie works in the therapy gym.

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Betty Bloomer Ford was born in Chicago on April 8, 1918. She would be 96 years old today.

Betty Bloomer Ford on the cabinet room table in the White House.

Betty Bloomer Ford on the cabinet room table in the White House.

No biography of Betty Bloomer Ford would be complete without spotlighting her passion for dance. Betty studied modern dance under pioneer Martha Graham and made numerous appearances in New York City, including at least one in Carnegie Hall. When she returned to Grand Rapids, Betty taught dance in a number of places.

Betty’s mother, Hortense Neahr Bloomer, was associated with Mary Free Bed Hospital and served as the president of our Guild from 1931-32. A biography of Betty Ford complied by The National First Ladies’ Library notes:

“With her mother’s hospital work exposing Betty Ford early on to people living with disabilities, she also took on students who were deaf and blind, instructing a sight-impaired student to do ballroom dancing, and even learning rudimentary sign-language to instruct the hearing-impaired.

Betty became involved in Mary Free Bed, too. She was a founding member of the Junior Guild in 1935.

Hortense Neahr Bloomer

Hortense Neahr Bloomer

Here Betty is dancing her way out of the White House. She confided to photographer David Hume Kennerly that she always wanted to strike a pose on the Cabinet Room table. As she was saying good-bye to staff on the day before Jimmy Carter was inaugurated, the room was empty and Betty made her dream come true.

We’re honored that the Ford family keeps ties to Mary Free Bed. Betty’s daughter Susan Ford Bales is an honorary member of our guild. The Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program is …

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Guest Blog by Sarah Williams, mother of Mary Free Bed alumnus Tamarah Williams

Tamarah Williams is my 13-year-old daughter who was born with hydrocephalus, more commonly known as water on the brain. She suffered a brain injury during a medical procedure in June, 2013, which left her unable to care for herself. On July 3, 2013, Tamarah was transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, but had to return to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital a few days later for another procedure. On July 9, 2013, she had two seizures that left her unresponsive and on a ventilator for two days.

On August 2, 2013, Tamarah returned to Mary Free Bed to begin therapy learn to care for herself. After more than two months of varied therapies, Tamarah was released from Mary Free Bed on October 21, 2013. She went home with a walker and a wheelchair. I’m very thankful to Mary Free Bed for the help and support that my daughter was given.


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Guest Blog by Sue Bauerle, sister of Mary Free Bed alumnus Nancy Goodsell


That’s the first word that came to mind as I accompanied my sister (Nancy Goodsell) to the Mary Free Bed gym on the first morning of her therapy. Just a few weeks before, her health had begun deteriorating. She was confused, unable to get words out and unable to move much on her own.

Nancy and Sue walk with Therapist Lauren Lenca

Nancy and Sue walk with Therapist Lauren Lenca

Her condition even puzzled the doctors, but an MRI revealed an increase in the size of the ventricles in her brain; the fluid wasn’t draining properly and was putting pressure on her brain. After more testing, she was scheduled for a shunt placement. Four days later, she was transferred to Mary Free Bed, more lucid but still with many physical and cognitive deficits.

The weeks leading up to this had been a time of frustration, fear and concern over whether she would ever be herself again. Yet that first morning, as I watched therapists work with her and observed other patients in the gym, I felt excited. I heard therapists giving words of encouragement; I saw their smiles; and I saw the patients responding. There was a feeling of hope all over that gym.

As the days went on, my trust in and respect for the staff at Mary Free Bed continued to grow. My sister’s nurses and nurse techs gave compassionate and competent care on the floor. Dr. Bruinsma came by each morning to check on her. Transport staff came with a smile to take her to therapy when I wasn’t there. And her therapists were awesome!

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Kathleen Bacon 5Ever since she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in late 2011, Kathy Bacon’s life has been a blur of surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and other medical procedures.

Her strength and stamina were zapped by medications and treatments. At one point, her weight slipped to 86 pounds. Early this year, a therapist suggested she take a look at the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program at Mary Free Bed.

Kathy, who is 64 and worked as a dog groomer before she got sick, expects to spend about four weeks as an inpatient in the cancer rehabilitation program where she works daily with physical and occupational therapists.

One of her favorite things to do is climb aboard the Lokomat Pro, which is a treadmill equipped with robotic legs that help users regain the ability to walk.

“It makes me feel strong and healthy,” she says with a smile.

But the cancer rehabilitation isn’t just about helping Kathy gain physical strength and relearn self-care skills. She’s also exercising her brain.

“Because she has lesions on her brain, there is a serious disconnect between what the brain says and what the body does,” says her husband, Bruce. “We are working hard to make that connection again.”

He believes that cognitive improvements also will help Kathy make physical gains.

“Her goal is to be somewhat independent again,” says Bruce, who lives in Kentwood. “If she weren’t in this program there would be no hope of me taking care of her at home.”

As for Kathy, her goal at the end of her rehabilitation is to walk independently down the hospital corridor.

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Physical Therapy Products Magazine – Website - Virtual Electronic Edition
**Kirk Randall, Margaret Frantz and Amy Little wrote a guest story for Physical Therapy Products magazine.**





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Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital recently launched the Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program. CEO Kent Riddle talks about the program and good it has already done in West Michigan.

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