By Christine Walker, Director of Health & Wellness
For over 15 years, the Health & Wellness Center has been located in an outdated double-wide trailer but recently relocated to Baldwin House, which offers a beautiful, spacious location to provide on-site medical care for the Ranchers.
Due to extraordinary efforts from our Buildings and Grounds Crew, as well as many volunteers who helped with the move, the relocation (and renovation of Baldwin House) was made possible. We now have more-than-adequate room to serve all of the Ranchers who call Rainbow Acres home with the health care services they need on the ranch.
The key characteristics are a main lobby and waiting room that has a calming effect on the Ranchers with soothing colors, modern artwork, and an inviting reception desk; an alcove designed just for “weigh day” (one of the most popular Health & Wellness activities); treatment rooms that provide privacy and can used by our nurses as well as our visiting primary care physician and for mobile lab and x-ray services; and private offices that allow Ranchers and their families to share their concerns without being heard in other areas of the building. There is now a place to store medical supplies and a room for education. Last, but not least, we have a new records storage area that allows us room to file and sort as well.
Thank you to the Rainbow Acres donors who made this possible as well as the Buildings and Grounds crew and Paul Higgins (VP of Finance who also served as IT expert for the project). Health & Wellness now has room for its copiers, fax machines and office equipment plus Wi-Fi access. The staff feels like they’ve never been so blessed in providing their services to the Ranchers!
…Not too long ago, great medical care for a developmentally disabled individual was not common. As recently as the 1990’s, life expectancy for someone with a developmental disability was in the 50’s, maybe early 60’s. Currently, this age group comprises over 50% of our population at Rainbow Acres.
Having the opportunity to serve our Ranchers from such a beautiful facility reminded me that, not too long ago, great medical care for a developmentally disabled individual was not common. As recently as the 1990’s, life expectancy for someone with a developmental disability was in the 50’s, maybe early 60’s. Currently, this age group comprises over 50% of our population at Rainbow Acres. When you visit you will notice that they are young at heart and very healthy individuals. We even have several Ranchers in their 70’s and early 80’s.
What key factors have made such an impact on the health of our Ranchers, adults with developmental disabilities?
Increased training of our Caregivers
First, and foremost, is the increased training of our Caregivers. They have learned to recognize the “normal” health of each Rancher and call for guidance when they notice that someone is not feeling or behaving as expected. Our Ranchers, along with most people with disabilities, have a hard time describing or recognizing when they do not feel well. The ability of staff to recognize illness early is key to helping someone get treated and feeling great again.
Healthcare providers seek patient input
Second, but just as important, is the group of providers we have been able to access to supply care to our Ranchers. I have never forgotten a phone call I made when I first came to Rainbow Acres. I called a provider due to an abnormal lab test. He informed me that he wasn’t going to treat this condition. When I inquired, he said “Why would I?” It took me a minute to realize the implication of this statement. This provider was very quickly eliminated from our list! The providers we have now seek the input of those closest to our Ranchers. This may include family, Caregivers and, of course, the Health & Wellness staff.
Philosophy of care for adults with developmental differences at Rainbow Acres
Third, our philosophy of care. When we provide information about our services, we like to say that we are an activity-based program, NOT a medical program. The job of the Health & Wellness staff is clear – we need to keep our Ranchers healthy enough to participate in all of the amazing programs that are offered here. It doesn’t matter if the person is 18 or 80 – this is what we strive for. This may take many medical specialists for some of our Ranchers. However, it is not uncommon to have Ranchers tell us we have to schedule their appointments around important events like Special Olympics. Medical appointments and procedures do not weigh our Ranchers down. They seek the advice of the medical team to keep them “in the game!” Nothing is as exciting as when a Rancher comes out of an appointment and instead of being worried about their diagnosis or an upcoming test, they say ”The doctor said I don’t have to miss class.” Now that is motivation!
If you have not been to Rainbow Acres, it is time to make a visit. Our Ranchers will inspire you with their strength, their faith, and their love of others. And while you are at Rainbow, stop in to visit the new Health & Wellness Center and meet the staff. We are all truly blessed to have the opportunity to serve our very special Ranchers.