Left to right: Jackie Twidwell, wound nurse; Craig Ringwald, physical therapist assistant; Willie Mae Hunt; and Megan Tolson, occupational therapist assistant

As someone who has raised 11 children, worked in farm fields and was an aide in a nursing home for more than 20 years, Willie Mae Hunt knows a thing or two about hard work and perseverance.


Hunt put those skills to work when she stayed at Life Care Center of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, following a period of weakness, falls and significant weight loss. Hunt, 83, of Sikeston, Missouri, was so weak when she arrived on June 23, 2017, that she couldn’t stand, feed or dress herself. She also had a stage 4 ulcer.


“The wound was causing her a lot of pain and discomfort,” said Jackie Twidwell, wound nurse. “It measured 30 cubic centimeters, but we treated it with Closed Pulse Irrigation and were able to get 100 percent closure.”


Therapy staff worked with Hunt on walking, strengthening and improving balance through use of a rolling walker and the Omnicycle and BioStep exercise machines.


“She was willing from the beginning to try any exercise and do anything we asked,” said Craig Ringwald, physical therapist assistant. “She’s worked really hard. She would come in and work every day, whether she felt like it or not.”


Hunt also worked with the speech therapy staff to improve her swallowing, cognition and pulmonary hygiene.


“She has become more aware of her surroundings and safer in her environment,” said Charly Essner, speech therapist. “She’s able to express herself and has increased her memory and her ability to solve problems.”


Hunt was able to begin feeding herself again and graduate from a mechanical soft to regular diet.


“Everybody treated me really nice,” Hunt said of the Life Care staff. “Having them help me heal has been a blessing. When I worked at a nursing home years ago, I would see people just lie there. I didn’t want that to be me.”


Along the way, Hunt’s children have been her cheerleaders.


“They kept on telling me, ‘Do your therapy, and you’ll get well,’” Hunt said.


Hunt is continuing her therapy at the facility.