Joan Gahagan

I’ll never forget the night of January 24th. At the age of 80, I slipped and fell on a patch of ice outside our carport door. I can still remember the ice cracking and popping as I hit the concrete. Being 5:30 in the late afternoon, darkness was fast approaching with no one in sight. I began to scream and holler for help as loudly as I could. My two little Chihuahua puppies heard me from inside of our house, and soon their barking brought my husband to the door.

Following the exam at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center, I was told I had broken the large bone in my right arm and messed up the shoulder as well and would need surgery. The accident caused some of the worse pain I had ever experienced in my life.

The surgery went well, and I thank my orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Kautz for all that he did. I also appreciated all the care I received from the hospital. Everyone was so kind and helpful.

After surgery, my husband and I realized that we did not know how we would be able to take care of me at home. Being my right arm, I could hardly do anything for myself, not to mention the extreme weakness and pain I was experiencing. Dr. Kautz shared his concerns as well, especially the fact that I was a high risk for another fall in my present state.

I entered The Courtyard of Natchitoches the next day during the Mardi Gras season. The first thing I noticed were the decorations everywhere. Paula Barker, the Administrator, and many of the staff members came to greet me. I experienced the warmth and an atmosphere of home right away. Many people waved to me as I rolled by in my wheelchair. I felt as though I was in a parade. Peace came right away as I began my five-week stay. 

I cannot say enough about the administration and staff. They were always patient and caring. Many times when I was asked to do something new, I would feel scared — afraid to come out of my comfort zone. There were always words of encouragement and reassurance which enabled me to take the risks. People were kind and understanding.

Dr. Brian Picou, Jr., was the physician who took care of me at The Courtyard. Everyone would get so excited on the days he made rounds. He always knew who needed to see him and never left until he had seen each of them. He cared about everyone, and how they were doing. This really helped a lot.

Sometimes, I would experience emotions and concerns and would just need a good “listening ear.” I found many people who would listen and say just the right things that I needed to hear. Even the physical therapists who work in the gym were not only good at their jobs, but they were also good at listening and making me feel better. 

I was amazed at the many activities provided for the patients. Catholic Mass was provided on Friday mornings and other church services were held on Sunday mornings. There was always something going on or being celebrated for the patients. Many patients gather together frequently to talk and share. Family members even brought their pets to visit.

My experience in The Courtyard was a happy one. As scripture says, “I was content in the situation I found myself in.” I will never forget my stay at The Courtyard or the good people who took care of me and made my recovery a success and my stay such a pleasant one.

Pull quote:

We chose The Courtyard of Natchitoches after we were told that I would need extensive physical therapy and would receive it five times a week while being there.

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