The Stroke Recovery Center in Palm Springs is truly an exceptional place when you consider that it has around 300 clients—and the services it provides are often free.
The Stroke Recovery Center, at 2800 E. Alejo Road, runs on grants, the kindness of donors and money raised through fundraisers. The organization is holding its biggest fundraiser, the 34th Winter Wonderland Ball, on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Westin Mission Hills Resort.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that 700,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year.
“It’s the leading cause of a handicap for adults,” said Beverly Greer, the CEO of the Stroke Recovery Center. “The most recent statistics say that one in four families has someone who has suffered a stroke.”
The key to a recovery after a serious stroke is rehabilitation. Even with rehab, there’s no cure or full recovery, but it helps people gain back language skills and independence-related tasks such as dressing and bathing.
“What we have found over the years is that if you continue working with rehab, you really find you can improve, particularly the ability to take control of your life and your activities of daily living,” Greer said. “We can actually get people out of their wheelchairs. They don’t see the doctor or go to the E.R. as often, and they don’t fall as often.”
Many insurance providers, including Medicare, only provide 30 days of rehabilitation, at the most. That’s often not enough for a stroke victim.
“It really comes down to the original Medicare regulations that were put in place during the 1960s,” Greer said. “Stroke isn’t the only thing that has this problem. What Medicare looked at was if you can document improvement in mobility, muscle strength and the elements that are quantifiable. We were not able to do that for strokes past the 90-day level. Therefore, the reimbursement via Medicare was stopped. This is very typical of nursing homes and different types of rehabilitation.”
What does this mean to stroke victims? “Unless you have a lot of means and deep pockets, you really don’t have a lot of options open to you to continue rehabilitation.”
The Stroke Recovery Center provides a variety of rehabilitation programs such as physical therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, and healthy meals to clients and caregivers, often at a cost of only $4. During a tour of the facility, Greer pointed out a space on the courtyard patio that will eventually be the site of a new physical-therapy and exercise room. It will be double the size of the current one, which is limited in space and generally packed with clients receiving physical therapy and using exercise machines.
“We say that we see miracles every day, and we really do. It’s absolutely amazing,” she said. “We’ve had numerous people come in, in wheelchairs, and start walking. We see people who have lost their ability to speak for 5 to 10 years start speaking again. We see people coming in with post-stroke depression, which is very common, being able to laugh again and feel good about themselves. It’s a very upbeat environment and a strong community of people here.”
The center does all of this with a budget of around just $1 million annually.
“We have to raise every cent of it,” Greer said. “We have very generous donors and a number of foundations and granting organizations that have funded us for years. We’re always looking for new avenues of support. Because we’re an older organization, a lot of our donors who were with us for the full 35 years are no longer with us, because they started when they were older folks and retired. We’re looking to build a new generation of donors and hope that people understand when they see what we do here, what a good thing it is, and they’ll continue with their support.”
The Winter Wonderland Ball is the center’s main event. This year, the center will honor board member Harvey Gerber and his wife, Angie; local philanthropist Donna MacMillan; and Javed Siddiqi, of the Primary Stroke Center at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. Wayne Foster Entertainment will be providing the live music.
“It’s our big do of the year,” Greer said. “It’s always a big kickoff for the season here in Palm Springs. This year is going to be absolutely spectacular, because we have wonderful honorees.”
The Stroke Recovery Center’s Winter Wonderland Ball starts at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Westin Mission Hills Resort, 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, in Rancho Mirage. For more information or reservations, call James Martinez at 760-323-7676, ext. 112, or visit www.strokerecoverycenter.org.