Stevie Barnett has been confined to a wheelchair for about six months, after contracting a near-fatal flesh-eating disease during a trip to Jamaica.
“I made it back home and I went into trauma,” Barnett, a 29-year veteran of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, said about the intensity of his wound. Barnett’s doctors cut the disease out of his leg, rendering him unable to walk. Barnett was transferred to Genesis Health Care Severna Park Center, where Barnett said the staff has made all the difference.
“They’re still working with me and they’ve been very, very good, taking care of my knees and trying to get me to walk again,” he said.
Barnett was part of a group of speakers who stressed the importance of Maryland’s nursing and rehabilitation centers at a press conference Monday afternoon. Sage Policy Group, an economy and policy firm in Maryland, also released a study at the conference detailing the economic impact of the centers.
According to Anirban Basu, chairman of the policy group, the nursing and home care industry supports 36,000 jobs, and personal income from the this sector of the job market brings $1.5 billion into the economy.
“It’s a significant industry,” he told the room of about 30 people. “It’s not an unimportant sector of the economy.”
The report also found that more centers are serving people under the age of 65, like Barnett. That age group has grown by 26 percent from 2001 through 2008.
Barnett cited the family-like atmosphere at the center for his progressing recovery, which he said goes a long way.
“My friends and family can’t always be there, sometimes I don’t want them to be, and when they’re not there, the staff always gives me words of encouragement, always helping me along the way, just the little things make a big difference,” he said. “If you’ve never been in a bed for six months you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.”
Not only are these facilities beneficial for jobs and medical care, but according to Tamara Geiwitz of Long View Nursing Home, they also improve the social development of the patients.
Geiwitz is a third-generation manager of the independent, family-owned facility.
“I’m proud and honored to be apart of the Long View community. We treat all of our patients like family,” she said. “Since 1946 our family has provided outstanding care for families in our community.”