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Leaving a peaceful legacy

The Scribe

April 2014

The journey of rehab patients, especially those overcoming severe debilitations is physically and emotionally challenging. In the crucible of the intense and emotional day to-day victories and setbacks, unique bonds are formed with a patient’s care team. Mike Liptan, a former patient at the Legacy Health Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon (RIO), overcame multiple challenges there, forming strong connections with his health care team along the way. Liptan passed away a year ago after a series of complications left him paralyzed, but his legacy at RIO is very much alive.

A gifted nature photographer and avid art collector, Liptan found comfort and solace in the art that adorned the halls of the unit where he completed rehab four years ago. Last month, when his wife Debbie was downsizing many of the couple’s belongings, she immediately knew where he would want his photo gallery to be displayed.

“Mike hoped to do something meaningful with his art collection, so I thought, what better way than to share it with patients so they can enjoy it when they are reorienting their lives in a positive direction.”

The 13 panoramic photos she donated, about half of Mike’s collection, include stunning shots of Mount Hood, Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Mount Bachelor, Crater Lake and others from outside of Oregon. Four of the photos are by Mike and Debbie; the others are favorites they collected over the years.

Mike entered RIO in December 2009, rehabbing earnestly until the end of January. During this time, he developed the strength and motor skills to shower and dress himself and transfer to and from his wheelchair.

“It made a huge difference,” Debbie said.

The Liptans bonded with the RIO staff, especially Mike’s occupational therapist, Julie Cline, and his physical therapist, Traci Hutchins.

Cline worked with Mike daily. His goals, she explained, were to increase his arm and trunk strength so he could do as much for himself as possible. She also worked with the couple to make sure their home was as accessible as it could be upon his discharge.

“A short time before he died, Mike sent me an orchid and a card with just his name on it. He was a very kind, gentle soul as well as a highly motivated patient,” Cline recalls.

Hutchins also worked with Mike daily, focusing on mobility, stretching and range-of-motion exercises. “Mike had a practiced and unique ability to take things at a manageable pace, always taking time to reflect, to be aware and present. He was very dedicated to his faith,” she said.

Art can be therapeutic for patients like Mike who are confronting life-changing injuries and diagnoses.

Medical Director for Legacy Rehabilitation Services Jennifer Lawlor, MD, said, “the patients at RIO are generally confronting life-altering medical conditions that often seem surreal. Having so many beautiful photos and landscapes provides patients with a small visual escape to peaceful sanctuaries, helping many patients on their journey through the healing process,” she said.

Dr. Lawlor added, that Mike “demonstrated one of the magical things that happen when patients are grouped together, each with their own unique circumstances but with the shared challenge of getting through a very tough medical recovery. He contributed to the camaraderie that helped lift up all those (at) RIO when he was here. Now, by Debbie leaving this donation, they’ve created an ongoing gift that will be long appreciated by all who pass through the RIO program.

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