By Elizabeth Keys
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Her Cowboys, golf, church, volunteering — all part of a passion for people invigorated Eva Belle Hines and her love for Stillwater.
She never had any children, but cared about all her friends’ children and grandchildren as if they were family.
As she slowed down, warm water therapy became a gift to keep moving long after her retirement from 38 years with the United States Department of Agriculture. Since June 1998, she had volunteered over 3,198 hours of service to Stillwater Medical Center and her gift of nearly a million dollars to the SMC Foundation will keep her passion for people alive long after her August 2011 death.
“Eva Belle’s compassion will touch the lives of so many for years to come. Nearly half of Eva Belle’s gift is dedicated to development of facilities including the warm water therapy program which she loved,” said Teresa Hopkins, Stillwater Medical Center Foundation executive director. “The new facilities are estimated to need over $2 million to complete. Project plans call for incorporating a warm water aquatic therapy center in the south campus development of the Stillwater Medical Center property off 12th Street.”
An in-ground warm water therapy pool will be part of a projected 9,000 square foot, provider-based outpatient rehabilitation building including a 3,000 square foot fitness gym, and support spaces for training and conferences, locker and shower rooms, exam and office space, as well as related equipment care and storage. The pool will feature a zero-level entrance, water lift for transfer of patients and operation as an “endless pool” to provide aquatic resistance for various treatment objectives.
To raise more funds for the aquatic therapy program, this year’s Starlight Gala will benefit the project. The Stillwater Medical Center provides an above ground pool in Cimarron Plaza for warm water therapy. The “Warm Water — Healing Solutions” campaign is an effort to expand the capabilities of aquatic therapy services.
“Warm water therapy has the ability to help all the joints,” said Marsha Dittmeyer, SMC Total Health Physical Rehabilitation and Medical Fitness water aerobics instructor. “The pool water keeps 70 to 80 percent of your weight off the joints so it helps you move in the water. People who can’t stand to walk outside can walk around and go miles in the warm water pool — but they can’t make it around Boomer.”
Young children and the elderly benefit from the warmer water. Stillwater Medical Center also works in partnership with Oklahoma State University in training recreational therapists as students gain real world experiences with patients at the facility, Hopkins said.
Stillwater Public School students and children from the RISE program incorporate activities in the Warm Water Therapy Lab within their Individualized Education Plans to develop progress with behavior, communication, social interaction and physical functioning goals.
The pool is an environment uniquely suited to facilitate the health of neurological and musculoskeletal problems. In the buoyancy of water, people can exercise comfortably and become stronger while gaining mobility in their body and limbs, Dittmeyer said. After an illness, injury or surgery, a patient’s sensitivity to pain may be increased or the ability to bear weight on the injured area is limited. In water, the pull of gravity on the body is not as strong as on land making motion and functional activity more comfortable.
“Hydropressure also removes swelling from the body. Two of our classes use no impact with easy movement for all your joints — even toes, fingers and neck. You don’t need to be a swimmer to enjoy the water.” said Dittmeyer who is certified by the Oklahoma Arthritis Foundation Aquatic program.
The arthritis aquatic program includes exercises to improve the participant’s overall function and performance of daily tasks, mobility, gait, independence, flexibility, balance and coordination. Expanding the warm water therapy program is a way to serve more clients needing services in the area. From a small town hospital to a comprehensive healthcare system serving people all over north central Oklahoma, Stillwater Medical Center recognizes the need in providing the latest technology and programs for the special needs of patients, Hopkins said.
“We are committed to planning for the future of health care in the regional area, ensuring the availability of high-quality health care services close to home,” she emphasized.
This year’s Starlight Gala on Nov. 16 will benefit development of a new warm water therapy pool. The evening begins with a social hour at 6 p.m. in the Oklahoma State University Wes Watkins Center. Barbara Shultz, Dee Richardson and D.J. Pettit are the chairmen. Dr. Jonathan Drummond will serve as master of ceremonies with Charlie Kaupke leading the live auction.
Tickets are $100 per guest and corporate sponsorships are available.
If you would like to receive an invitation to the gala or to order tickets, call the SMC Foundation, 405-742-5728, or purchase tickets online at www.smc-foundation-org.