As a retired hospice and medical ICU nurse, as well as a past manager of a neurological outpatient center, Debbie Zima, a native of Chicago, helped countless patients overcome a range of illnesses, injuries, and other health-related setbacks throughout her 30-year-long career.
But, she likely never imagined that she would one day become a patient herself, due to a devastating car accident.
The unlikely turn of events all began on December 5, 2011. As Debbie drove through Holland, the city’s Christmas lights were aglow, emitting a rainbow of colors. Wreaths were hung on the doors of neighborhood homes. And the majesty of another wintry day was being enjoyed by hundreds of Holland residents.
Unexpectedly, Debbie’s car slid on a sheet of ice and skidded into a nearby tree.
She knew instantly she was injured. Sharp pain raced throughout her body. After paramedics arrived, Debbie was transported to Holland Hospital.
Debbie was told that she had broken nine ribs, an injury that would require physical, occupational, and recreational therapy. She chose to have her rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.
“Having worked at Northwestern University in the past, I was very familiar with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC),” Debbie said. “I chose Mary Free Bed because I thought it would be like the RIC.”
While at Mary Free Bed, Debbie was especially thankful for the assistance she received from physical and occupational therapists.
“The physical therapy was wonderful as it helped me learn to use other muscles, aside from my upper body muscles, to move around,” she said. “Occupational therapy, meanwhile, helped me relearn how to dress, shower, and conduct other similar everyday activities.”
In addition, she was quite pleased with her overall experience at Mary Free Bed, including the condition of the hospital and the professionalism of its staff.
“The facilities were clean and the doctors were trustworthy. The transport aides were also very kind, and they always ensured I arrived at the right place at the right time,” she said. “And my nurse was excellent, which is saying a lot, coming from a fellow nurse.”
Now, just a couple months later, Debbie is fulfilling a goal she originally had when she arrived at Mary Free Bed – to be able to walk again. In fact, she is doing much more than that.
She is currently a member of the Holland Woman’s Library Club as well as the American Association of University Women. She is also a wife and a grandmother.
And she does not believe she could have recovered so well and so soon without Mary Free Bed’s assistance.
“I am grateful for the care I received,” she said. “I don’t think I would be able to walk right now if I had not gone to Mary Free Bed. I cannot thank everyone enough at Mary Free Bed for their care, laughs, and, most importantly, for saving my life.”