Yurik Resetnikov and his family didn’t know anyone when they arrived at Craig Hospital from Hawaii in early November.
But that changed immediately.
“The first hour we got to Craig blew my mind,” said Resetnikov,40, a firefighter now in a …
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Craig Hospital covers the cost of families staying in the 47 apartments for 30 days. After that, they can find other accommodations or remain in the facility and pay a small fee based on the family’s ability to pay or, in some cases, the Craig Foundation pays the cost of a family’s extended stay.
Kenny Hosack, director of marketing and public relations for Craig, said some other area hospitals do have arrangements for family housing, such as the Ronald McDonald Houses in Denver and Aurora. But he said he knows of no area hospitals with the extensive support and assistance programs for families that Craig has.
When possible, Yurik Resetnikov’s wife, Lindsey, and daughters, Mehana and Kona, join him during treatment sessions.
“When I go to water therapy in the pool, Lindsey is usually there with me and, if she can’t make it, Kona joins me,” he said. “It is great to have them there with me during treatment. It encourages me to keep working at it.”
A recent recreational therapy session included a pool table, a foosball table and assorted games and activities.
The purpose of such sessions is to help the patient develop the skills needed to do things he or she did before their injury and to have fun doing it, said Tom Horan, a certified recreational therapist.
At this session, Resetnikov and Lindsey decided to play pool. Resetnikov said he was pretty good before his injury. Horan worked with him, providing aids like a bridge to help him control the cue stick to hit the ball and send it where he wanted to go.
Their daughters joined them, learning for the first time how to handle a pool cue.
“We have fun doing things like this,” Kona said.
As the girls were learning about pool, Resetnikov made a new friend, Jake Mutschler, also in a wheelchair.
The two men talked about their experiences and shared information. Mutschler told Resetnikov about an attachment to his wheelchair that enabled him to have water with him all the time.
“Talking together like this is helpful to both of us,” said Mutschler, a Boulder resident. “We hear about equipment or things that will help us that we may not know existed. It is great information and it is coming from someone who is experiencing the same challenges we are experiencing.”
“The first hour we got to Craig blew my mind,” said Resetnikov,40, a firefighter now in a wheelchair with limited use of his arms and legs after a body surfing accident in October. “This place is amazing, and it was unbelievable the way everyone took us in and made us feel welcome. I felt like everyone here was taking care of a family member.”
And that’s exactly what Craig staff hope their patients feel because treating the body is just one part of the rehabilitation process. Caring for the spirit of the patient and the family is just as important.
“When a loved one suffers a traumatic spinal cord or brain injury it also has a major impact on the lives of the family members,” said Stephanie Percival, director of clinical care management.
And individuals of all ages and backgrounds, along with their families, come from throughout the world to Englewood’s Craig, which treats patients with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
While Resetnikov is in the hospital, his wife, Lindsey, and daughters Mehana, 10, and Kona, 13, are living in Craig’sfamily housing facility.
“Almost as soon as they showed us to our apartment, other families came to meet us and offer to do anything they could to help us,” Lindsey said. “It was pretty amazing and very special for all of us.”
“We came from the sands of Hawaii to the snows of Colorado,” she said with a smile. “Everyone was so nice. For example, all we had was summer clothes when we got here and the folks here at the hospital got us some coats and winter things.”
Support also came from outside Craig.
After learning a fellow firefighter was a patient at Craig, crews at the Jefferson Fire Station in Englewood have scheduled weekly visits. The crew also hosted the family at the fire station for Christmas dinner.
Resetnikov’s accident occurred in October.
“I caught a good wave and hit the bottom as you always do body surfing,” he said. “I tried to get up, couldn’t move and I knew something bad had happened.”
Friends pulled him from the water. He wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. Several people administered CPR for about 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
Resetnikov arrived Nov. 4 and expects to be at Craig until February.
Back home on the big island of Hawaii, extended family members are working to make his home wheelchair-accessible.
But before he returns, he and his family will transition to a larger apartment at the Craig facility.
The family’s current living facility is like a small apartment with sleeping quarters, a living space and a kitchen. When Yurik joins the family, they will move into a family suite in an adjacent building. The family suite is described as similar to a large hospital room with an adjacent living room and a few cooking facilities.
There, with hands-on training sessions, they can learn the skills they will need as a family to support Resetnikov.
Each patient at Craig has a treatment team of 10 to 12 people that includes staff members in a variety of specialties, Percival said. The team works with the patient and the family. Peer counseling sessions with current or former patients and their families also take place.
“The focus is helping everyone understand the challenges they are facing and ways to deal with those challenges,” Percival said.
The team also provides the patient all the equipment and materials he or she will need when they leave the hospital.
“We feel they are still our patients when they leave us so we to continue to keep in touch with them,” she said. “We want the patient and the family to know we don’t just help them while they are at Craig, but we try to continue to help them as long as help is needed.”
The Resetnikovs said they are grateful for what Craig has done.
“So many people have worked with us, helping us learn so much that we will need to know when we get home,” Yurik Resetnikov said. “We don’t know what we would have done had we not been treated here at Craig.”
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