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O’Hara Police Chief Credits Return to the Force Due to Care He Received At HealthSouth

Jim Farringer has been the police chief for O’Hara Township for more than 12 years now. He also has experience as an EMT and volunteer fireman.

In February 2014, he had a stroke during work. He spent 12 days in the hospital.

“I was scared,” he said. “Will I ever get back to my job again? Will I ever ride a motorcycle again or play with the kids? It really had me worried.”

After he was released from the acute care hospital, he transferred to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Harmarville (formerly known as HealthSouth), one of two Encompass Health hospitals in the Pittsburgh area. HealthSouth’s second hospital is in Sewickley.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends inpatient rehabilitation care, such as Encompass Health, for stroke patients like Farringer. The AHA’s recently issued guidelines on adult stroke rehabilitation call for intensive, multidisciplinary treatment. Study findings are in favor of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and suggest that stroke survivors who qualify for inpatient rehabilitation hospital services should receive this care in preference to skilled nursing facility-based care. Farringer’s recovery at Encompass Health stands as a living testimony to the AHA’s guidelines and the power of inpatient rehabilitation hospital care for stroke patients.

“I spent 28 days in rehabilitation. They wheeled me in on a stretcher and I walked out of there with a walker,” he said. “My right leg was absolutely dead. They just kept encouraging me and eventually I was able to move it on my own. They actually got me up on a treadmill and got me walking and eventually they had me walking.”

Both Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospitals in Pittsburgh are certified by the Joint Commission for Stroke Rehabilitation.

The stroke rehabilitation program at each hospital underwent an extensive, unannounced, on-site evaluation by a team of Joint Commission reviewers and were evaluated against the Joint Commission standards of quality. To earn the certification, a hospital must successfully demonstrated compliance with national standards and effectively use evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care for patients recovering from stroke.

After discharge, Farringer underwent a series of tests to regain his position on the police force and today he is back to active duty. Perhaps the sweetest part of his recovery has been his return to his motorcycle.

“I have a 2006 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic,” Farringer said. “I have a motorcycle trip planned after retirement. I want to do the four corners of the lower 48 states. It’s just the sense of freedom you have whenever you’re on a bike. After a busy day at work, I get on the bike and forget about the day’s events. It’s so relaxing.”

Farringer is thankful for the team that treated him at Encompass Health and his ability to both return to work and his bike. He added that he has a few words of advice to future patients of HealthSouth.

“Work with these people, give it 110% and they will put you back on your feet,” he said.

To learn more about Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospitals of Harmarville and Sewickley, visit www.encompasshealth.com/harmarvillerehab or www.encompasshealth.com/sewickleyrehab.

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