Published on March 28, 2016

Illini Restorative Care Helps Car Crash Victim Recover

Lisa Sieghartner received skilled nursing care and therapy services from IRC after an accident last December

Lisa Sieghartner enjoys the simple things in life: baking, going to church, and spending time with her two nieces and husband, Bob. But her life was put on hold last December after a car accident that left her right leg and ankle fractured.

“For the first month I just didn’t want to talk about it,” she said. “It was all so horrible.”

As a result of the accident, Sieghartner was admitted to Illini Restorative Care (IRC), a long-term care facility attached to Genesis Medical Center, Silvis. IRC offers traditional long-term care services as well as Medicare-certified skilled nursing care for those who have had surgery or an acute illness.

IRC’s hospital readmission rate is about half of the national average, leading to a 90 percent return home rate.

The Accident

Sieghartner remembers the night of her accident with clarity. She was driving home from Bishop, Ill, with her two nieces, Madison and Alexa. Since it was a foggy night, she unknowingly soared past a stop sign.

“I remember slamming on the brakes as I saw a yellow sign in front of me,” Sieghartner said. “I missed hitting a utility pole and a guardrail. There’s no doubt in my mind that God was driving the car that night.”

Bob, Lisa’s husband, also recalls the fear he felt the night of the accident. He lost his teenage son in a car accident just a few years ago.

“It was very traumatic for me because around the same time years ago I lost my 15-year-old son in a car accident,” he said. “All I could think to myself was, ‘Oh no, not again.’”

Sieghartner’s nieces escaped the accident with a cracked tailbone and a twisted ankle. All three victims were taken to a local emergency room in Kewanee, the nieces quickly treated and discharged while their aunt was transferred to a different hospital that could handle trauma cases.

Four days after the accident she and Bob were told she would need to be admitted to a long-term care facility to receive rehabilitation.

Exceeding Expectations at IRC

Physical Therapist Whitney Gray guides Sieghartner as she places weight on her fractured leg.

Physical Therapist Whitney Gray guides Sieghartner as she
places weight on her fractured leg and ankle. Learn more
about physical therapy at Genesis.

Presented with a list of long-term care faculties, Sieghartner and her husband chose IRC.

“We chose IRC because it was close-to-home, and because it was best on the list,” she said. Bob agreed, wanting his wife to be admitted to a facility close to their Coal Valley farm.

Sieghartner would begin physical and occupational therapy, the goal to strengthen her right leg and its 16 new pins. But she would also require around-the-clock care since it was difficult for her to get around with a broken leg.

“The care at IRC was exceptional,” she said. “When I think back to graduating from a bedpan to a commode, and finally to a big girl potty, I realize I seriously needed constant help. And not once did I feel degraded or belittled -- everyone was so kind and respectful.”

According to Care Transition Supervisor Julie VanWinkle, care that is both kind and respectful should be an expectation of patients.

“IRC is a truly incredible place because of all the services we offer,” VanWinkle said. “But more than anything it’s the staff that makes this place special. They treat people so kindly and help to change lives every single day.”

Faith in Recovery

Besides the supportive care she received at IRC, Sieghartner also relied on her faith throughout the recovery process. In fact, she believes it was God that kept her alive the night of the crash.

“I know God was driving the car that night,” she said. “I came to that realization after being told I missed the guardrail and utility pole. And when I realized God was driving the car, it became easier to talk about. I knew that God was in control.”

Sieghartner maintained a positive attitude through the 30 days that she was at IRC, knowing well that negativity could lengthen her recovery.

“I could wallow and feel bad for myself, but that’s not what I was here for,” she said. “There’s a reason I had this accident. Whether it was for me to touch someone else’s life, or for someone to touch mine, I was meant to be at IRC.”

Getting Stronger Every Day

Sieghartner was discharged from IRC on Jan. 19, feeling both sad and excited to be leaving the place she’d called home for more than a month.

“Everything about IRC is just wonderful,” she said. “While I could not be at home, I know that this was the best place for me.”

Even though Sieghartner still faces a long road of rehab to get her right leg and ankle up to strength, she never falters when it comes to her optimism and faith.

“Through this whole thing I could be happy because I was alive, and the worst I got was a broken leg and ankle.”

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