Being a caregiver for a loved one with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be an overwhelming challenge, filled with uncertainties and changes.
Dorene Scolnic, LCSW, CCTSW, a licensed social worker at Gaylord Hospital, acknowledged that families caring for someone with TBI often face a multitude of unique challenges, including managing their loved one's physical issues, understanding their changes in thinking and shifts in behavior, and dealing with communication problems.
"It's important to understand that when someone has a life-altering event like a TBI, the entire family is affected," Scolnic said.
Anthony Browne fell in love with cycling after learning to ride last summer. Since then, the 30-year-old says he’s “always dreaming about zooming off somewhere.”
But months later, an undiagnosed illness robbed Anthony of his mobility, leaving him uncertain if he would ever enjoy the freedom of riding again.
It began with what he referred to as “fuzzy feet,” a combination of numbness and extreme weakness that started in his lower extremities and spread to his hands.
Despite 13 MRIs, four lumbar punctures, numerous hospitalizations, and “a billion blood tests,” doctors at several hospitals were perplexed, unable to put a name to his condition.
With no answers - and no movement in his extremities - Anthony felt not only helpless but hopeless.
Anthony transferred to Gaylord Hospital...
\By Joy Savulak
Happily married for 61 years, Joan and Milton Wallack of Branford say that the secret to long-term wedded bliss comes down to two simple rules.
“First,” Joan, 85, says, “is listening to each other.”
“And making each other more than we could otherwise be,” adds Milton, 84.
Though Joan and Milton have been in perfect step throughout their six decades of marriage, life recently became a bit “off-balance” for the couple.
Milton, a retired periodontist, was diagnosed with a common form of vertigo – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV – that causes brief episodes of intense dizziness.
“It made me very insecure because it felt like I was in space … and you have zero control in space. One time, I lost my balance while clearing...
“Gaylord Hospital got Sue on her way to a miracle,” claims 86-year-old Ron Monforte. “That’s all there is to it.”
In 2006, Ron’s daughter Susan Fazzino – then 45 – was walking by her father’s side when she indicated that she suddenly wasn’t feeling well.
“She passed out and dropped to the ground,” her father recalled. “I went to grab her, but she hit her head hard on the concrete floor.”
Still unconscious by the time they reached the emergency room, Sue was rushed into surgery to repair the massive brain bleed that threatened her life. Ron remembers walking into her hospital room after the five-hour operation. Seeing Sue lying motionless and surrounded by the beeping machines keeping her alive, he said, was a stark contrast to...
During the COVID pandemic, Gaylord quickly recognized the need to serve and support staff. "Our staff was dealing with COVID within their families and circle of friends. And then they were coming here to help patients. We were concerned about compassion fatigue," says Chris Babina, manager of care management.
Donors who felt strongly about staff resiliency offered financial support for programming. "We ran with this and expanded our service," says Dorothy Orlowski, patient relations and volunteer manager. A significant difference between these programs at Gaylord and other institutions is that they are included for both patients and staff and are free of charge.
One of the first staff offerings was for yoga classes (a similar offering is also available to patients through Therapeutic Recreation)....
Gaylord’s chaplains play a vital role in supporting both patients and staff. Rev. Joy Christi Przestwor, a former Roman Catholic nun, ministers to patients and staff of every faith and no faith, offering the sacrament to Catholics, saying prayers, or simply helping a patient reach his shoes.
Przestwor's way of bringing light focuses on being present during moments of struggle. She purposely chose one of her shifts to be from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. "This allows her to capture time with third shift staff who historically feel left out of a lot of what transpires during the day," says Lee Golembiewski, manager of process improvement. Nighttime can also be hard for patients after a long day of therapy or feeling lonely after family or friends have gone home. Przestwor’s presence and availability afford a sense of...
Embracing the Human Spirit
A Brief History of Whole Person Care at Gaylord
August 3, 2023
The roots of Gaylord's integrative, whole-person care go back to its beginnings in 1902 as a tuberculosis sanatorium. The treatment for TB could mean many months or years of recovery at a sanatorium. At the turn of the century, families didn't have insurance to help cover illness and prolonged hospitalizations, and a health crisis could financially devastate a family. The stresses of home, family, and work obligations could weigh heavy on patients, hampering their recovery.
Because Gaylord physicians and staff understood the personal and emotional impact of hospitalization, they created opportunities to lessen the stress and financial burden. One of the first initiatives was a magazine agency, created in 1915, which...
Joe Graham was on a family vacation when he spotted a group of children diving into the hotel pool.
The father of two maneuvered his wheelchair over to strike up a friendly conversation with the kids and their parents, and caution them that small pools - like the one they were playing in - were not meant for diving.
The kids listened politely but resumed diving soon after Joe left, much to his dismay.
“I get it,” he said. “I was told to be careful a billion times as a kid, but I felt invincible. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way.”
Joe described his younger self as someone with an “adventurous streak” who loved BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding and was “really enthusiastic about life.”
Meet our Physiatry Residents:
Five Questions with Mitch Wright, DO
Mitch Wright, DO, is among Gaylord’s inaugural class of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation residents. Wright talks with Gaylord about his chosen field, his career goals, and more as he commences his three-year rotation at Gaylord Hospital.
What drew you to medicine?
I was very active in high school and college sports. After an injury in high school I developed an interest in physical therapy. With my background in sports, I started out with a degree in athletic training. During my junior year of undergrad, I went on a medical mission to Nicaragua and was encouraged by a group of doctors to consider medical school. That thought never left my mind. After graduation, I worked as an athletic trainer for three years and I had the...
Mary Turner had just gotten off the phone when an unusual movement in the next room caught her eye.
She looked up to see her 60-year-old husband Paul, a recently retired Hamden firefighter and a 21-year Air Force veteran, stagger and grab the back of a couch to steady himself.
“I asked what was going on, but there was no answer,” Mary recalled.
Mary ran to Paul as he suddenly clutched his left arm and moved it across his chest.
“I couldn’t imagine what he was doing until I saw that his mouth was drooping a little. I immediately knew he was having a stroke.”
Within minutes, Paul was surrounded by Hamden emergency personnel, all long-time friends and “family” from his decades of service as a first responder.