People of Ketchikan
Providing a continuum of care
by Kathleen Stack
September 05, 2004
Ketchikan, Alaska - Monday is Labor Day. A day to pause from
the regular routine to honor the nation's working men and women
and the traditional end of the summer season. Among Ketchikan's
many professional and skilled labor force is hand therapist Lucy
Marie Cruise who specializes in rehabilitating patients with
conditions affecting the hands.
Lucy Marie Cruise
Photo by Kathy Stack
Cruise works for Ketchikan
General Hospital in the therapy department. As a hand therapist
she works with the physician and patient - in any situation -
to provide a continuum of care. This often starts within days
of the injury or surgery right through to the patient's return
to work and/or a productive lifestyle. She provides therapy for
patients who may have experienced repetitive stress injuries
and provides the therapy ordered as follow up treatments for
fractures, crush injuries, lacerations, and tendon and repair
surgeries. According to Cruise, a patient may have multiple therapy
needs such as those produced by a crush injury which might involve
broken bones, lacerations and cut tendons.
Cruise specializes on other
services that would involve rehabilitation - such as splinting.
She states splinting is a craft and that it can be very challenging.
It is an art in itself to design a splint that will hold body
parts in place or that will assist body parts in moving when
they no longer can on their own. Currently, Cruise is the only
specialist who crafts splints in Ketchikan.
A therapist's high degree of specialization requires continuing
education and, often, advanced certification. This enables the
hand therapist to work with patients to hasten their return to
a productive lifestyle. And Cruise stays up-to-date in her speciality.
She is a member of the American Society Of Hand Therapists and
attends conferences to learn about the latest advances and treatment
techniques at least once a year.
Cruise came to Ketchikan two years ago from a small southeast
Arizona desert town named Safford, where she worked as a hand
therapist in a private clinic.
Cruise said she was on a quest looking for a mentorship and spotted
an ad in a professional magazines that Dr.Wolf of the Southeast
Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic in Ketchikan was offering
a mentorship opportunity. Cruise said she was interested in the
mentorship opportunity which would allow her to attend clinics
and see patients with Dr. Wolf as well as be able to observe
surgeries performed and to learn from Dr. Wolf. Cruise was interested
in the mentorship position as she plans to achieve an advanced
Hand Therapist Certification in the next few years. Cruise said
she and Dr. Wolf spend two to three days a month in the clinic
together and maintain close communications regarding patients'
recovery and progress. Cruise says this working mentorship is
very different from big cities where its difficult to get a learning
opportunity like this.
Cruise is a single parent with two daughters. Erin, age sixteen,
attends school in Arizona and loves music as well as other normal
teen things. Elena, ten years old, enjoys piano, drums, drawing,
and visual arts.
Before becoming a hand therapist, Cruise made her living as a
singer. She said she spent twenty years singing in night clubs
to put food on the table. Cruise sang Blue Grass, Jazz, and was
even in a Polka band for a while. She still performs and has
participated in a few of the popular Ketchikan Monthly Grinds
featuring local performers. Cruise will be performing Blue Grass
this month at the Monthly Grind which is held in Saxman.
Lucy Marie Cruise said she
loves Ketchikan and her job. She said she has not observed this
kind of personal care in other places that she says we are so
lucky to have in Ketchikan.
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