Community reintegration is a main focus for our inpatient rehabilitation unit patients, their families and our team of therapists. Recreational therapist Katie Jonkhoff took the lead recently to combine a community reintegration trip and a bucket list event for patient Jim Lewandowski who has been battling terminal cancer since 2014. Jim and many of his family members are avid Red Wings fans and his son Joel arranged tickets for their family while Katie and Jim’s OT, Dawn Bolen, found tickets for themselves. Drs. Michael Wheaton and Raymond Cheng, Jim's rehab physicians assisted in moving radiation treatments to let Jim rest for the day. The hockey game would be his ‘real-life’ therapy for that day.
Once at Joe Louis Arena, Jim met up with his three sons, four grandchildren, and other family members – 11 in all. His son Robert flew in from Portland, Oregon while son Eric drove from Nashville. The three sons rotated so that each of them could sit with their father for one period. Katie and Dawn also took turns with Jim to make sure he was comfortable and cared for. Jim said everyone around him was also very helpful.
"The only one with a negative reaction was the guy I hit with my wheelchair," he remembered.
After the game, Robert had arranged for the family to meet Jim's favorite player, Pavel Datsyuck, but they were surprised by a bonus visit from Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. Many jerseys, hats, t-shirts and more were signed by Pavel, and lots of photos were taken. Pavel Datsuyk later posted a photo of the meeting on his own Facebook page.
After the event Jim wife Judith Lewandowski said, “The rehab staff are caring, compassionate, tender, with some humor mixed in, and always sensitive to Jim’s dignity.”
All of the rehab therapists provide each of their patients with extraordinary care and do their best to meet the patient’s wishes and the therapists and entire rehab team are honored to have been able to grant this for Jim.