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Nurturing to renewed hope and health

On a return visit for outpatient therapy, Lorre Thompson, above right, greets staff members she became close to at Providence Health Care during a several-week rehabilitation stay.

On a return visit for outpatient therapy, Lorre Thompson, above right, greets staff members she became close to at Providence Health Care during a several-week rehabilitation stay.

Providence Health Care (PHC), a ministry of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, makes a lasting impact on people who come through its doors.

Lorre Thompson, 54, of Terre Haute, is one of those people.

Lorre spent much of last summer in the rehabilitation unit of Providence Health Care. Complications from heart surgery had left her in a coma for five weeks. She came to PHC dependent on a ventilator, without the use of her body’s right side and barely able to sit up in bed.

After receiving physical, occupational and respiratory therapy at PHC and being weaned from the ventilator, she returned home several months later walking with a cane.

What is so special about Providence Health Care at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods?

“It’s how much the staff and everyone cares about their patients,” Lorre said. “No matter who you are, how sick you are or what your religious beliefs are, they care for you and love you. I felt nothing but love and care the whole time I was here.”

Lorre said she’s taken much from her stay: “Good health. Great people. My life back to semi-normal.

“They didn’t give me a whole lot of hope before I came here. But since I got here these guys have been nothing but encouraging, telling me, ‘Yes, you can do it.’”

Lorre said she found what she needed to heal and thrive at Providence Health Care.

“You have to get your mind in the right set for your body to heal, and they provide that for you,” she said.

The motto for Providence Health Care is “healing for body, mind and spirit.”

Ruth Surmatis of Brazil, Indiana, says she is all the evidence you need that the holistic approach works.

Ruth Surmatis, center left, says she went from not being able to sit up in bed to walking with a walker over her weeks at Providence Health Care. Here Ruth works with physical therapy assistant Emily Wallace as her husband Joe looks on.

Ruth Surmatis, center left, says she went from not being able to sit up in bed to walking with a walker over her weeks at Providence Health Care. Here Ruth works with physical therapy assistant Emily Wallace as her husband Joe looks on.

“I went from a vegetable to what you see now,” she says as she practices leg exercises during an outpatient physical therapy appointment. “My mind is a lot more positive. And there is definitely spirit. I’m ready to get up and go, go, go.”

Ruth spent several months in Providence Health Care last spring and summer after having been in a coma for nine weeks.

Her daughter Tandy Solesky, also of Brazil, visited her there nearly every day of her stay.

“I am a medical professional myself (an RN), so I have high expectations. And Providence Health Care went above and beyond. They treated her like she was one of their own. Like she was their family,” Tandy said.

“It’s the whole package: the outside, the inside, the staff. It is all very healing, very calming, very supportive, very nurturing.

“I think it was [that holistic approach] that helped mom in the overall healing process. I think it’s why she’s done so well.”

“Sister Nancy [Bartasavich, from ministry of care] came and sang and prayed with her every day. She was fed spiritually. Because Providence Health Care is faith based, it helped mom draw on the strength of her spirituality. She wouldn’t have gotten that overall level of healing at other places. Having her spirit strengthened and nurtured really helped the family and helped her keep going. We are not Catholic, but you can feel the Lord’s presence in that facility,” Tandy said.

Teresa Russel had such a positive experience during her late father's stay at Providence Health Care at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods that she was inspired to seek a deeper connection with the Sisters of Providence by exploring becoming a Providence Associate.

Teresa Russel had such a positive experience during her late father’s stay at Providence Health Care at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods that she was inspired to seek a deeper connection with the Sisters of Providence by exploring becoming a Providence Associate.

Teresa Russell is another example that Providence Health Care transforms not just the lives of their patients, but also of the people who love them.

Teresa’s father, Ed Payton, stayed in the rehab facility at Providence Health Care for several weeks early in 2014.

“It was like a refuge for him. It gave him, I think it gave both of us, a sense of peace,” she said.

Because of you...

Your support makes the unique level of healing offered at Providence Health Care possible. Generous donations during our 2001 campaign and continued support since allowed us to renovate and expand Providence Health Care to serve both our sisters, and beginning in 2012, the public. Providence Health Care now serves the community as a rehab to home facility, with assisted living, long-term care and outpatient therapy. Learn more at PHCWoods.com or by calling 812-243-2609.
There was just a feeling of being surrounded by people who cared, she said. “It’s like caring for some people is a calling and for others it’s just a job.” At Providence Health Care she found people living out a calling.

Teresa’s father died several months after leaving the rehab facility. But the experience at PHC left a deep imprint on Teresa. So much so that she recently began the year-long candidate journey toward becoming a Providence Associate with the Sisters of Providence. She said she is looking for a spiritual home that she had not yet found with organized religion.

“Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is a very spiritual place. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a place that evokes that feeling in me.”

Of the stay at Providence Health Care, she said, “I would say it is the best experience in a health care setting that I’ve ever experienced or ever heard about. There’s just something special about the place. It’s kind of undefinable.”

(Originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Mission Advancement office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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