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When Jennifer King started as an occupational therapy assistant at IU Health Frankfort Hospital, a few of her colleagues invited her to join them for a walk during lunch.
“I went with them, and I about died,” Jennifer jokes. “They were speed-walking and chatting, and I was silent because I was so out of shape I couldn’t even breathe.”
After walking regularly, Jennifer not only was able to keep pace with her new teammates, but she could also hold a conversation.
When COVID-19 hit the Hoosier state, the ability to get outdoors and exercise became more important than ever, as many gyms and fitness centers closed due to the pandemic.
“Because our team is inside for so long during the day, it’s important for us to be able to get fresh air and de-stress outside,” Jennifer says.
The gift of the great outdoors.
Thanks to a significant gift from NHK Seating of America Inc. to construct a walking trail on the IU Health Frankfort Hospital campus, Jennifer, her colleagues, and the entire community will benefit from a safe, well-lit space to enjoy the outdoors.
“We hope this walking trail will create a safe environment for the citizens of Frankfort to exercise and social distance,” says Rich Reck, vice president of NHK Seating of America Inc. “We believe in community, and we’re going to continue to partner with Frankfort and IU Health to promote health and safety.”
Kelly Braverman, president of IU Health Frankfort Hospital, views the walking trail as representative of a larger shift in healthcare. “As a society, we’re trying very hard to move from reactive medicine to proactive health,” Kelly says. “The trail will be an outward example of that shift in focus.”
A true multi-use space.
Kelly hopes to be able to use the trail as an outdoor area for physicians and nurses to lead wellness classes, as a potential spot for a farmers’ market and as an area for community members to meet.
Jennifer is excited to use the new trail with “swing bed patients” – those well enough to be released from acute care, but who still require skilled, inpatient care services. “Some of our swing bed patients may be here for two or three weeks at a time,” Jennifer says. “When we’re working with them in therapy, we can take them outside and do testing on different ground types. That will expose them to a wider range of real-life situations than we can simulate in the clinic.”
Kelly believes the trail will also be a boon for families of patients. “If you have a loved one in the ER and you’re worried, you can go outside and walk out that nervous energy,” Kelly notes.
The walking trail is expected to be completed in the mid-to-late summer of 2021.
To learn how you can support the walking trail, contact IU Health Foundation Philanthropy Director, West Central Region, Julie Paolillo, CFRE.