Coming home to friends

Adventist Health Tillamook’s transitional care program helps injured local doctor recover at home

After spending his entire career serving the Tillamook community as an internist and hospitalist, Dr. Calvin Hill knows there’s no place like home. That reality took on deeper meaning last spring when this retired doctor became a patient.

After volunteering for 10 days with a youth camp building project in the central Oregon Cascades, Dr. Hill headed down a winding mountain highway on his way home to Tillamook. Suddenly there was horrendous bang. Bags were hanging all around him, and white powder filled the air. “I looked out of the windshield and saw this very big tree in the hood,” Dr. Hill recalls. “I hurt. My chest and my foot hurt terribly.”

Rushed to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, Dr. Hill was diagnosed with a fractured spine, 15 fractured ribs, bruised lungs and his right foot completely crushed by the car’s engine. After two weeks and spine surgery in Bend, plus several days in Portland and foot reconstruction surgery at Oregon Health & Sciences University hospital, Dr. Hill was discharged.

But he wasn’t ready to be home. “There was no way I could go home at that point,” he explains. He couldn’t bear weight on his right foot and could only sit up for short periods.

Dr. Hill’s care coordinators made arrangements with Adventist Health Tillamook for skilled transitional nursing care right in his local medical center. Through this special program, patients done with acute hospital care but not ready to be home can get the nursing care they need right on the Oregon coast.

“Getting home to Tillamook was so nice,” Dr. Hill says. “I was coming home to my friends.” Adventist Health Tillamook’s skilled nursing program meant Dr. Hill could have his physical and occupational therapy provided in-house by providers who knew him personally.

Even when Dr. Hill was ready to leave skilled nursing after eight days, the Adventist Health team helped him adjust to recovering at home. They instructed Dr. Hill and his wife how to keep him safe and avoid falls by adding ramps and bars to their home.

“I’m now a very experienced patient,” Dr. Hill says. “When you’re flat on your back, too weak to move and can’t even move your arms to feed yourself, you realize how important it is to have very kind, gentle and competent people taking care of you.”

Though Dr. Hill is still recovering from his injuries and subsequent months in bed, he now aims to walk at least 10,000 steps each day. He’s able to drive again, and he’s looking forward to a bird-watching trip to Ecuador. Fitted with BiPAP nighttime breathing support, he won’t be falling asleep at the wheel, and he’s more motivated than ever to be an active part of his community.

“Prayer saved my life. Expert care put me back together again,” he says.