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Walking the Path of Healing

Community Contributed

By Daria Gray, Speech Therapist

Last weekend, I joined several other speech-language pathologists at the Phoenix Convention Center (in 106 degree weather!) who attended the American Speech-Language Healthcare and Business Institute in Arizona.  The keynote speaker for the conference was Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, who believes that everyone should have the opportunity to tell their story. This, I have come to know, is a way of life for island people who talk story and seek to live their story of closeness to the land and each other.  Mother Teresa embodied this truth: “We belong to each other.”  Saints Damien and Marianne also strived to live an integrated life by caring for others on Kalaupapa.  Their lives speak to those on the same healing path.

I am a speech pathologist who came on the tail end of the generous USDA grant that set up the rehabilitation clinic, Wai Ola Hina, several years ago.  Though I was to support ongoing development of the services for swallowing, speaking, thinking and communicating, the clinic closed soon after my arrival.  I have returned to Molokai over the past four years through the supported efforts of Na Pu`uwai and the Molokai Community Health Center to restore a collaborative model for more regular service provision.  The rehabilitation department within Molokai General Hospital has also taken part in helping me understand your unique island culture.  Our common goal is to provide the best rehabilitation support for those who return from off-island acute hospital settings to their homes on Molokai.

I plan a return visit Aug. 7-14 and will be presenting a short community information session on brain wellness.  I hope to provide one-on-one follow-up with clients and their family support systems along with sharing this ongoing learning opportunity for up-to-date strategies to maximize rehabilitation benefit.  As a facilitator of our Stroke Survivor Group for the past 19 years, I find that my professional respect for this mutual responsibility in shared learning is critical for improving day-to-day quality of life, not only for my clients and their families but also for my best understanding of my clients’ changing needs.  As our brains heal in bringing a sense of stability to our lives, so too, our communities must likewise provide an integrated network of diverse opportunities to extend the new learning/healing process through different levels of support.

I invite you to share your ideas and needs in how we can continue our collaborative efforts in this process of developing multi-disciplinary support through your already existing health resources.  Your stories about healing and your active participation in the life transformation process from hospitalization to a return to your best quality of life at home, are valuable lessons to share.  Please join me in cultivating our more active engagement in nurturing our individual community sense of well-being.  Please contact me at Na Pu`uwai at 560-3653; times, date and location TBD.

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