Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Monthly Report from the Director
Scott R. Isaacks, FACHE
Medical Center Director
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Each month I am privileged to share with you many of the great things our team is doing at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. From research, to medical treatment, to our customer service efforts, we continue to strive to improve clinical care and the care experience for each Veteran every day. We do all this for one simple reason … to improve the lives of our Veterans. So this month, I want to share the stories of two Veterans with you.
Gary Pauley was diagnosed in 2009 with Parkinson’s disease. With symptoms like tremors, stiffness of the body, slowness of movement, difficulty with balance, and persistent hip pain, he sought relief from anti-inflammatory drugs, rest and physical therapy. But nothing was working. In December 2015, he heard about a new community program called GEMS – Get Excited and Move – run by former Olympian and Olympic Coach Michael Cohen. He consulted with his VA health care team and Charleston VAMC’s pain director, and decided to be one of the first 19 participants in the program, which is designed to improve muscular strength and endurance, coordination, agility, flexibility, speed work and voice command for those with movement disorders. It took about six months of regularly moving, but today Mr. Pauley is able to manage his pain without medication and says his quality of life is drastically improved. He’s now a certified weight lifting coach, and either leads or assists with his daily GEMS classes.
Darrell Bivens got a challenge from VA Physical Therapist Janine Tumminia – to set a goal and reach it. The lower leg amputee decided he wanted to walk three miles, so he and his therapist got to work. Through regular therapy sessions including weight lifting, balance training, and other exercises, Mr. Bivens gained strength and endurance, and reached his goal. Now, he has set another goal … to complete the walk for the Bridge Run, which is more than six miles. In just a few weeks, he will walk the bridge with his training mates – his family and his VA physical therapist, who are all walking the bridge with him. Looks like Mr. Bivens gave his therapist and his family a challenge too.
To me, and to our team, this is what our work is all about. Whether we are treating a Veteran for cancer, helping him or her rehabilitate from an injury, or learning to cope with a mental health issue, our goal is always to provide the care and services that help our Veterans live the life they deserve. And we are committed to fulfilling that mission of relentlessly pursuing ways to improve Veterans lives every single day. Thank you for allowing us to care for you. We are privileged to be your VA.
With gratitude and respect,
Scott R. Isaacks