My name is Jana Reeves, I’d like to share with you just a little bit about how my son Nate came to be an outpatient at Wendell Foster, and what a difference it has made in his life.
When Nate was four months old, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Wolf Hirschhorn Syndrome. Nate is the youngest of four. He is not able to walk or talk and is also intellectually disabled. Despite the disabilities, he’s very social, happy and the delight of our family!
After receiving our son’s diagnosis, we began the routine series of medical appointments and therapy visits. He first began therapy at five months old, and has received physical, occupational and speech therapies weekly since then. We are originally from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area of Texas and began our therapy journey at the local children’s hospital. We loved his therapists and, it being our first experience with pediatric therapy, were satisfied with the facility and services he was receiving.
“A large part of the success of Wendell Foster is the community that supports them.”
In 2014, when Nate was one and a half, we moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. When we were settled and I began to look for services for him, I was surprised that the therapy services available were very minimal. Palm Beach County is one of the wealthiest counties in America so one would think that large, fully-equipped facilities would be plentiful, but that was not the case. Nate went to just a small private clinic there in West Palm Beach. The staff were nice and did an adequate job, but it was pretty standard, routine treatment and very little therapeutic equipment. We lived there for three years.
In 2017, when my husband told me we were going to be moving to Owensboro, Kentucky, I have to be honest and say my heart sank. I googled Owensboro and began to figure out the logistics of where we would need to see our specialists, found a pediatrician, and then began to plan our first trip to Owensboro to look for a house. As far as therapy, my plan was to meet with the pediatrician on one of our house-hunting trips and ask for recommendations from him, so I had a game plan.
On our first house hunting trip to Owensboro, I had my son with me and our realtor began asking me some questions about Nate. I explained to her about the types of care that he would need when we moved. She said, “Well, have you looked into Wendell Foster?” And I said I had not heard of Wendell Foster, “What is that?” She explained that it was a residential center but also had an outpatient rehab facility. She said, “I have a friend that works in the business office. Why don’t I set up a time for you to go see it?” and I replied, “OK, sure.”
So later that afternoon we arrived at Wendell Foster’s Outpatient Rehab Center and, I have to tell you, I could not believe it. This was the largest outpatient rehab facility I had seen. When we walked into the gym I looked around and the walls were lined with equipment. I began to cry. I had been so worried. I had imagined we would wind up at a small outpatient clinic that primarily treated adults with the hope that maybe someone had pediatric experience. And here we were at the largest and most equipped outpatient center I had ever seen . . . in Owensboro. I looked around the gym and there were adaptive bikes, a basketball goal, and various mobility aids. Then we walked into the PT gym…it was huge. We toured the OT gym…there were swings, mats, foam and ball pits, all sorts of equipment, a pool, a sensory room, a technology library…I couldn’t believe it. I was blown away!
Nate receives therapy weekly and he has made so much progress in the two and half years he has been receiving PT, OT, and ST. He is walking with the aid of a walker and learning to communicate with an augmentative communication device.
After living in two major metropolitan areas, who would ever believe that the best therapy clinic Nate has ever been treated at is here in Owensboro.
A large part of the success of Wendell Foster is the community that supports them. The contributions from the people of Owensboro, year after year, improve the quality of life for my son Nate and many others like him. What a treasure Wendell Foster is. I hope we never take for granted how blessed we are and how amazing it is to have the resources Wendell Foster provides for our community.