Wilderness Survivor Begins Rehabilitation Therapy at Providence Portland Medical Center

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Sept. 13, 2007 (noon)

Media Advisory: The family of Doris Anderson is requesting no media contact at this time. When available, updated information will be sent out by e-mail and will also be posted at www.providence.org. Please notify jean.marks@providence.org if you would like to continue receiving information on Doris Anderson.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The 76-year-old woman who survived two weeks in the wilderness is completing her first day of evaluations and therapy sessions at Providence Acute Rehabilitation Center (PARC). The center is located at Providence Portland Medical Center in Portland, Ore.

Molly Hoeflich, M.D., medical director of PARC, says Anderson will spend Thursday going through a sequence of evaluations with physical, occupational, speech and therapeutic recreational therapists, as well as medical and psychological experts.

“Doris has the sparkle, the drive, to get better,” says Dr. Hoeflich. “She is willing to work hard and I am excited to be working with her.” Dr. Hoeflich anticipates Anderson will remain at Providence for one to two weeks. The PARC team will be working with Anderson on her memory and mobility problems caused by the hypothermia and frostbite she received during her 13-day ordeal in the Eastern Oregon wilderness. Anderson’s feet are especially painful due to the exposure to cold weather. Physical therapists will work with her to rebuild strength and endurance in her legs and throughout her body.

“She has been critically ill, and that can affect her endurance,” says Dr. Hoeflich. “Sometimes it takes 6 to 12 months to fully recover. Doris is clearly a person who will really fight to get better.”

Anderson is not remembering much detail of her ordeal. Dr. Hoeflich says that is not unusual for someone who went through a traumatic experience. “I am not concerned about that loss of memory,” says Dr. Hoeflich. “What we want to focus on now is her recovery and helping her build the tools to return home.”

Anderson was transferred Wednesday, Sept. 12 to Providence Portland Medical Center from St. Elizabeth Health Services in Baker City, Ore., where she was initially treated after being rescued.

The Sandy, Ore. resident became lost while on a hunting trip with her husband in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area in Eastern Oregon. She was found 13 days later on Sept. 6.

“Doris’ spirits are fabulous,” says Dr. Hoeflich. “She is actually trying to help us help her. She told us this morning, ‘I’m going to beat this.’”

Visit our Providence Acute Rehabilitation Center for more information.

Dr. Hoeflich leads a team of physicians, nurses, therapists (physical, occupational, speech, therapeutic and recreational), social workers, chaplains and dieticians. The team serves patients who have suffered devastating injuries, strokes and other debilitating medical conditions. Through intensive therapy and compassionate care, patients in the 21-bed unit improve functional skills, maximize physical, cognitive, and language skills and regain self-confidence.