Lori Baeckman, Lisa Birch, Jan Mechanic Rehabilitation team, Horizon Home Care & Hospice Inc.

As individual health care professionals, Lori Baeckman, Lisa Birch and Jan Mechanic each have highly specialized skills in the fields of rehabilitation therapy. Baeckman is a physical therapist; Birch is an occupational therapist; and Mechanic is a speech therapist. While each has their own area of expertise when it comes to patient care, together they represent the epitome of what it means to work as a team.

For the past three years, the three therapists have combined their skills as the rehab team at Horizon Home Care & Hospice Inc. The team assists patients in rebuilding their lives following devastating accidents, strokes and other debilitating situations that leave people feeling in despair.

“Lori, Lisa and Jan are three very special therapists who communicate clearly, work well as a team and coordinate their specialties to get the best results possible in what sometimes seems like a hopeless situation,” says Kelly Andrew, Horizon’s director of development.

In nominating the three as Health Care Heroes, Andrew tells the story of one recent client, Kim Zelko, whose 23-year-old son Tyler suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of a motor vehicle accident. Tyler had just come out of a three-month coma when doctors told Zelko that he would never be able to function beyond the level of an 18-month-old baby. The doctors advised that Tyler spend the rest of his life in a nursing home.

Kim Zelko refused to accept the doctors’ advice, moved her son home and contacted Horizon for home care services. The rehab team of Baeckman, Birch and Mechanic worked diligently with Zelko’s son, refusing to give up.

After six months of visits with the team, Tyler could dress himself, was mobile and able to do much of his personal care, Andrew says. His mother credits the hard work and dedication of the rehab team for his progress.

Andrew says Tyler’s story illustrates what typically happens when Baeckman, Birch and Mechanic combine their skills, personalities and mutual commitment to put their patients first.

“They expect excellent results, and have a gift of gaining the respect and trust of their patients,” Andrew explains. “They are true health care heroes and should be honored for believing in the impossible and having the skill and tenacity to give Tyler his life back.”

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