Life can change in an instant. On a Friday night in June 2011, Susie came home from work thinking she had the flu. When her symptoms continued to worsen, a series of health complications emerged. Septic shock led to multiple organ failure and a significant lack of blood flow to her feet. Ultimately, Susie had to have both of her legs amputated below the knee. Susie underwent months of intensive in-patient rehabilitation before returning home nine months after that night in June.

In order to live at home, though, Susie was going to need extensive home modifications to accommodate the wheelchair she was using temporarily until she could be fitted for prosthetics. Katherine Reim, one of PATF’s local Funding Assistance Coordinators, worked with Susie and her supports coordination agency to assist her with securing a contractor for the modifications. These would include a ramp, a bathroom with an accessible shower, grab bars for safety, and the widening of doorways. With PATF’s guidance, Susie successfully enrolled in a Home & Community Based Services waiver program to assist with personal care and which funded the home modifications that would help her begin to regain her independence. Soon, Susie was fitted for prosthetics and continued intensive physical and occupational therapy to increase her independence both in and outside of her home.

Susie’s next goal was driving using hand controls. PATF provided guidance and advocacy for Susie as she worked with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to arrange a driving evaluation, where it was determined that she did have the skills needed to drive with her disability. With funding from OVR, Susie began driving lessons to learn how to use hand controls, and the associated modifications were made to her vehicle. She was another step closer to the independence she sought.

Once Susie was driving again, she was ready to return to the workforce. Ms. Reim knew of an opening at a local non-medical home health care agency and shared this information with Susie. She interviewed with this agency and was hired as a receptionist!

With her home modifications installed, her prosthetics fitted and broken in, hand controls to get around in her vehicle, and employment in place, Susie saw the ultimate step in her independence journey as living without the assistance of a personal care attendant, a critical service that she utilized since her discharge from the rehabilitation program. But Susie had enough supports in place that she felt ready, and she disenrolled from the waiver. This meant that Susie would no longer receive in-home support from an outside agency.

That was seven years ago, and today Susie continues to make new goals for herself. If Susie’s story is nothing else, it is an example of how with determination and a little help you can reach your goals, big or small. Susie recently became a grandmother and is overjoyed with her new role.


Our primary goal at PATF is to help you get the assistive technology you want and need through the means that make most sense to you. Contact us to learn more about funding options for your assistive technology.