John Durkin’s story speaks to the tremendous advantages of the collaboration between Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital and UMass Memorial Health Care. It is a collaboration that allowed him to enjoy an easy transition from acute care to acute rehabilitation and then onto outpatient rehabilitation.
That’s not to say that there was anything “easy” about Mr. Durkin’s medical situation. It was nowhere near a textbook case of a quick diagnosis followed by immediate recovery. Things were not that simple.
One morning, hip discomfort that led to severe back and groin pain made it impossible for Mr. Durkin to stand. As a result, he went to the emergency department at the UMass Memorial campus. There, physicians determined he was experiencing a spontaneous bleed into the muscle responsible for leg movement and spine flexibility. But it was the unusual cause of the bleed that necessitated his transfer to the University campus.
Although seemingly healthy at the time of this incident, Mr. Durkin had acquired a rare autoimmune condition which was causing the bleeding. While transfusions replenished the lost blood, the UMass hematology team began working to find a way to stop the bleeding.
According to Dr. Bradley Switzer, a UMass hematologist, Mr. Durkin’s treatment team tried a number of different drugs before finding a medication call Rituxan, typically used to combat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia, that would eventually save his life.
After the second six-hour intravenous treatment with Rituxan, Mr. Durkin finally stopped bleeding.
Prior to his transfer to Fairlawn, Dr. Trista Brown, a UMass physiatrist on staff at Fairlawn, monitored Mr. Durkin from a physical medicine and rehabilitation perspective.
“This was extremely beneficial from a continuity of care standpoint,” said Dr. Brown. “I was well aware of the patient’s medical issues and had established contact with him and his family prior to his arrival at Fairlawn.”
It was just as beneficial once Mr. Durkin was admitted to Fairlawn. With two intravenous treatments still ahead, the Fairlawn and UMass teams worked closely to ensure that all necessary precautions were taken and the hematology service’s instructions followed to a tee.
Weakened after more than a month of bed rest, Mr. Durkin began working to improve his endurance, strength, range of motion and core functioning. An extra therapist was present during therapy, and a specialized leg brace with no pressure points was fitted to his leg to improve mobility.
By discharge, with the autoimmune condition in check, Mr. Durkin was walking more than 100 feet using a walker. That distance greatly increased through his follow-up care at Fairlawn’s Outpatient Center.
These days, Mr. Durkin, pleased with the progress he has made, is happy to be settled in a new home, spending time with his wife Joan, their six children and 11 grandchildren.
Sending his best to all Fairlawn staff who helped him through his recovery, Mr. Durkin said, “I am doing better and we are enjoying our new apartment.”