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Because of Siskin Hospital, I can believe

September 22, 2021

With two children under the age of seven, Jon and Brianne Arnold had just welcomed a third child into their family when the unthinkable happened.

“I heard the baby crying, so I went into the bedroom,” says Jon. “I didn’t see her anywhere. I looked in the bathroom and Bri wasn’t around. That’s not like her at all, so I knew something was wrong. When I turned around, I saw Bri lying on the floor, and that’s when I called 911.”

The ambulance arrived while their children were sound asleep, so they were unaware of their mother’s frightening ordeal.

“She was loaded up into the ambulance and taken away,” says Jon. “Later I got the call from the hospital confirming she did have a stroke.”

It was devastating news that Brianne had suffered a stroke, but doctors also told Jon she had tested positive for COVID-19. Suddenly, her family’s fear about her condition was compounded by the pain of not being able to be by her side. The compassionate nursing staff stepped in to help the young family see each other through video on their iPhones.

“Even though I wasn’t allowed to visit, they were allowing me to drop things off for her in sanitized plastic baggies,” said Jon. “One of those things was an iPhone and we were able to FaceTime the very next day.”

After two seemingly endless weeks spent in the ICU and COVID-19 Unit at Erlanger, Brianne arrived at Siskin Hospital, eager to begin the therapy that would help her get back home to her precious family as soon as possible.

“She would walk the stairs, she would practice walking around the building,” said Jon. “At one point, they had her jumping over things – and there’s a car parked in the gym! Which I thought was pretty amazing – if you needed to get back occupationally. We talked with the occupational therapist and worked with her a little bit and also with speech.”

The staff at Siskin Hospital knew that Brianne had been unexpectedly separated from her newborn baby and desperately wanted to hold her children and husband again. Because a mother’s love is the heart of a home, the entire treatment team at Siskin Hospital rallied around Brianne, personalizing her therapy to help her develop the skills she would need for the joyful day when she would finally be able to return home to her family and care for her three young children.

“On the day she came home,” says Jon, “the children came running out to the driveway, screaming in excitement.” They climbed through the open pick-up truck door and into their mother’s lap, hugging her, so happy to see their mom.

The family was thrilled to finally be back together again. Brianne made great strides physically, but she still needed help with speech deficits, and that’s where Siskin Hospital’s excellent outpatient therapy services stepped in.

“Because of COVID-19, we were doing something a little bit different with outpatient speech therapy,” says Eireann Blount, MS, CCC-SLP. “We did two days teletherapy and two days of therapy at the hospital.” Charlotte, another speech therapist, did the teletherapy, and in a virtual session, neither therapist nor patient had to wear a mask. That is critical for someone with aphasia, to see someone else’s mouth and how the words are formed.

“They suggested she do four days a week of speech therapy,” says Jon. “I went with her for the first couple of sessions. You know, Bri gained a new friend through her speech therapy.”

Both patient and therapist were new moms, and instant rapport sprang up between them. Eireann could understand Brianne’s attempts to communicate about her family, even though she couldn’t always say what she wanted to. The two moms even found a way to involve Brianne’s kids and let them help their mommy practice words.

“We have a little speech therapist at home,” says Jon of their daughter. “She’ll practice words with her mommy, really slowly: ‘ddddddawwwwwwwggg’.”

The blessings of family, friends and faith sustained the Arnolds through their devastating medical episode. Today, they are filled with gratitude and expectations for a bright and happy future.

“Because of Siskin Hospital, I can believe,” says Brianne.