This Angel helps get kids ready to go home

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11/11/2019

Angel Web

Angel Faussett works with patients and parents on the Riley rehab unit to make miracles happen.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

There’s an angel on the in-patient rehab unit who goes about the business of healing children with love, patience and discipline.

She is Angel Faussett, a rehab nurse for 30 years, first at IU Health Methodist Hospital, and now at Riley Hospital for Children.

“I really like rehab,” she said. “We get the kids that can’t go home after surgery, the kids with spinal cord injuries, burns, traumatic brain injuries, chronic pain. I like to help the kids get home.”

Sometimes that takes weeks, sometimes months. It’s often a grueling journey, but it’s where Faussett feels she can do the most good.

The rehab unit, known for its nature-themed walls and door wraps, has just 10 beds and includes the therapy room down the hall, where patients receive daily physical and occupational therapy sessions.

Angel Faussett with patient

It’s intense therapy, designed to get kids ready to go home. Sometimes that means a new normal for parents, who have to learn to care for their child’s special needs at home. Part of getting kids ready to go home is getting their parents ready to take on that responsibility.

But it’s hard for many, she added, because there might be trach tubes and G-tubes and braces and other equipment that can be intimidating to someone with no medical background.

“We have to get parents to accept that this is their child now. They can hold them and squeeze them, accept them and build from there,” Faussett said.

“We see kids come to our floor who can’t do anything and then they are able to walk out. They might not walk straight, but they walk and they talk and they can eat again.”

Those are the best days.

Faussett remembers one patient who couldn’t talk or walk when she arrived at the unit, after suffering a TBI in a car accident.

“She would fight us and we would tell her she was safe. When she left us (months later), she cried and hugged us all. What she went through and how far she came is a miracle.”

Angel Faussett

After a 12-hour shift, Faussett is beat. When she leaves, she reminds herself that her patients are safe, then she takes a couple deep breaths and sits in her car for a few minutes before driving home. There, her husband, Mark, will have dinner fixed.

“Sometimes I get in the hot tub and relax. Other times I watch ‘General Hospital.’ Isn’t that crazy?”

That’s right, after a long day at Riley Hospital, she enjoys getting lost in the make-believe world of a hospital soap opera.

In real life, she and her husband have a blended family of five children and nine grandchildren and enjoy traveling in their free time.

Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org