When Pam Higgins fell and broke her arm on Nov. 2, 2002, it was a day and an accident that would change her life.
“I had to have two surgeries, and bone down to the elbow was replaced,” she said. “I have some limited mobility but (with such severe injury) that’s still pretty awesome.”
During 16 months of rehabilitation, Higgins got to know the staff of SOMC Outpatient Rehab very well.
“I would finish on a machine and just go ahead and set it up for the next patient, I became so familiar with the process,” she said.
After so much time spent as a patient in rehab, Higgins decided to pursue it as a career. She started as a secretary for SOMC Rehab Services. Ultimately she became a rehab technician and now works at SOMC’s rehab facility in Wheelersburg, as well as helping out in Lucasville.
Taking care of the patients, she uses some unique methods of encouragement during a process that can be painful and challenging for those overcoming their obstacles.
“I don’t like tears,” she said. “We had a lady here right before Christmas and I gave her a ‘Marvin the Martian’ doll and told her to hit him and choke him if she got frustrated. Sometimes I put a cone on my head and run around like a unicorn. I have been know to jump out of the hot pack room.”
Nominated by SOMC Outpatient Rehab Clinical Coordinator Emily Carson, Higgins has received the RehabCare Group, Inc.’s most distinguished award, the Trusheim Spirit Award.
“Higgins is openly committed to our values of excellence, integrity, teamwork and fun and stands out among her peers in the areas of leadership, customer service and communication,” John H. Short, Ph.D., RehabCare President and Chief Executive Officer, says.
Dr. Short said Higgins was selected for her “passion for personal and program development and her special brand of patient care.”
Higgins was honored during a dinner Dec. 11 in St. Louis, Missouri, a formal event to which she almost did not go. “I called my co-workers back home, panicking, and told them I was ready to slip back up to the hotel room and put on some jeans, but they talked me out of it,” she jokes.
Higgins says all of the credit goes to her co-workers, and that they really deserve the honor. She has pursued further education in her field and praises her co-workers for their support in her endeavors.
“I lost my husband in April and this group has really been my new family. These people teach me every day. My heart just glows when I leave here. You don’t get tired of it, the way the staff cares. Without them my job is nothing. They are truly awesome.”