12 Days of Giving


Bill Leonhardt is a Grateful Patient…

No one is ever too old to learn, or relearn an essential skill when they have the encouragement and instruction from a team of dedicated and caring medical professionals to help them along the way.

Bill Leonhardt - Grateful Patient

From left: Occupational Therapists Becky Logan and Elke Hilgendag with grateful patient William Leonhardt
and Dr. Catherine Ballyk.

A retired educator, Bill Leonhardt found himself as a patient and student of the Rehabilitation Unit at the Brantford General after a bout of pneumonia left him unable to walk.

It was the summer of 2015 Bill, 85, was admitted to the Rehabilitation Unit. He spent three weeks in the care of Dr. Catherine Ballyk, Clinical Director of the Rehabilitation Program at the Brant Community Healthcare System, and the team of physicians, nurses, therapists and a host of other support staff.

“I was to the point I was in a wheelchair,” he said, describing himself as being “down, but never out.”

The Occupational Therapists in the department encouraged Bill to get back on his feet and start walking. At first he was taking simple steps back and forth and progressed to being able to navigate up and down a short set of stairs.

While his therapists were confident he could do what they were asking of him, Bill admits to being timid at first and worried he might fall.

“They insisted I could do it,” said Bill, who realized that after successfully completing each task he would be able to get back into the swing of things.

“I knew that if I worked to get my legs working properly, I could manage.”

Physiotherapy exercises helped to increase Bill’s mobility, and it was the incremental improvements he could see in his recovery that kept him motivated.

Bill said when the therapists were busy with another patient, personal support workers were able to assist him and keep him moving.

“That really helps, when you get a chance to do the extra practice,” he said.

When Bill wasn’t working directly on his own recovery, he took the opportunity to observe what was going on around him on the Rehab Unit. He could tell the staff was very busy and dedicated to their work. His background in biology and chemistry drew him to the scientific aspects of the medical care he was observing.

“I was amazed at some of the things they do,” he said about the connection between medicine and motion.

Bill saw how the therapy staff worked with patients – each requiring a unique plan of care to help them recover and regain their best level of independence.  Bill’s plan of care included being trained to use a walker, so when the time comes, he will have no trouble navigating with the assistive device. But Bill isn’t at that stage quite yet. He continues to do the physical therapy exercises he learned while in the hospital, but does them at home three times a week.

He also credits the personable nature of the hospital staff with making him feel relaxed while he was a patient. He said they shared lots of laughter and noted that everyone he encountered seemed to be enjoying their work.

“Everybody was very good,” said Bill. “Even the lady who came from the kitchen with my breakfast was very cheerful.”

“Dr. Ballyk was very kind, as well. She said they missed me after I left,” said Bill.

The welcoming atmosphere of the Rehabilitation Unit helped Bill in his recovery, and now he’s continuing to live life to the fullest with his wife Irene.

As Bill knows, when crisis or illness impacts you or a loved one, the Brant Community Healthcare System is here to offer you exceptional healthcare in your time of need.

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