Diane Blunt physical therapy recovery from accident at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Haverhill MAIn October of 2022, Diane Blunt and her husband, Chris, were in a severe car accident on their way home from caring for Chris’ 96-year-old mother.

Chris tragically passed away, and Diane was rushed to Beverly Hospital and then sent to Lahey Clinic in Burlington due to the severity of her injuries. Diane not only had to deal with the aftermath of losing her husband and starting her recovery but also had to find immediate care for her mother-in-law.

Diane had incredible support from her family throughout the accident’s aftermath. “My daughter instantly became the person in charge. She saw what needed to be done and stepped up to do it.”  Simultaneously focusing on Diane’s recovery and rehabilitation, Diane’s daughter oversaw the renovation of her home and volunteered to be the healthcare proxy for Chris’ mom. 

To ensure her 96-year-old mother-in-law received the absolute best daily care in Diane’s absence, the family turned to Masconomet Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing facility in Topsfield, MA, owned by Whittier Health Network. Diane’s mother was a previous resident there, and they were so happy with the care she received that she knew immediately they would assist her in the emergency transfer of care for her mother-in-law.   

I called the social worker and said, ‘I need to get her into Masco ASAP. Is there any chance?She called the owner and admissions coordinator at Masconomet, who called the police and said, “Bring her down right away. We will take care of her.”

Diane and her daughter were so pleased with how wonderful Ryan, the nurse manager at Masconomet, was in caring for her mother-in-law and communicating with her daughter. From day one after the accident until June 2023, just before her 97th birthday, when she passed away peacefully, the employees of Masconomet gave her exceptional care and a place to call home.

For Diane, that same time frame proved to be incredibly challenging. Not only had she lost her husband, but she had to endure several weeks in the ICU and another month in the hospital before she could even begin the laborious rehabilitation process. 

Once the doctors at Lahey realized I was going to live, they still didn’t think I was going to walk again; they put all sorts of metal in me. I had broken everything: both legs, both arms, vertebrae, and ribs; I had tears in my kidney and my aorta. I look like a roadmap on one leg. I have nine pins and screws in my ankle alone.

When Diane was ready to leave Lahey, she knew exactly where she wanted to go.

Not only had her mother previously been a resident at Masconomet Healthcare Center, but Diane had also worked at the Whittier Pavilion when the Arcidi family owned it.

I didn’t even have to think about it. I remember being at Lahey laying there when the social worker came in, and I just said, ‘This is what I want. Don’t question. Don’t try to convince me. I want to go to Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital and Whittier Home Health and then to their outpatient facility. Consistency is important in my stage of the game, and I want to go there.’”

From the first day Diane transitioned to Whittier, she proved she was up for the task, up until the day she walked out of Whittier eight months later – on her own!

diane blunt quote about recovery at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital Westborough after accidentThank you to Whittier. I can’t tell you what wonderful care I got. They were invested in me as a human being. I mean, I’ve been in the medical field my whole life. Most of my friends are nurses or nurse practitioners, and I know what care can be today. Care today is not what it used to be. But I got the old-fashioned care at Whittier; it was exceptional.

At Whittier, you’re in good hands from literally the top down.

Diane says two CNAs who helped her during day-to-day activities at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital-Bradford, Patrick, and Sierra—are the ‘epitome of good, old-fashioned CNAs.’ They were compassionate and extremely knowledgeable and made her feel comfortable at Whittier. She also had many overnight CNAs, some women around her age, so that they could relate to one another.

One CNA, in particular, was also a widow, so she understood what Diane was going through on an emotional level; “When my husband died in the accident. I didn’t have time to grieve. If I had a rough night, she’d just come in and hold my hands.

All of the CNAs and nurses were wonderful. I felt like they loved me, is a way to describe it. I’m just so overwhelmed by the care that I got. I got good care at Lahey and had some good nurses and CNAs, but nothing compared to the ones at Whittier. I know what the Arcidis expect from their staff, and I think all these people surpassed expectations. It is an extraordinary example of how all CNAs and nurses should be.

“I felt as an individual; they were invested in me and truly cared.”

When Diane started inpatient therapy at Whittier, she worked with Hannah and Christine for her occupational therapy and Joyce for her physical therapy.

They were all incredible. I just love them to death. I hadn’t had a shower for so long; it was all I wanted, and Hannah and Christine got permission from the physician team to get me in the shower. Even though I required full care at the time, they still maintained my dignity.”

By the end of November 2022, Diane wanted to go home. She celebrated Thanksgiving in the hospital but wanted to be home for her birthday in December. “I got two Thanksgiving dinners. Did I have an olive on my plate? No. Not one olive. And I kept complaining. So here comes my birthday: they got me a box of olives! And they all signed a card. Oh, those kids, oh my God. I can’t say enough for those kids. I really can’t. I pray that God gives them back what they gave to me.

Diane was discharged home three days after her birthday. She started home health care with therapists Sue and Kelly, who arrived almost daily. After home care, Diane was ready for outpatient therapy twice weekly at Whittier-Bradford. Michelle, Lauren, and Kelly were her primary therapists. “I can’t tell you how good they are. They show no mercy!

In November of 2023, just over a year after the accident, Diane was down to maintenance therapy visits. “They’re wonderful, and I appreciate all of them and what they’ve done for me. They have been unbelievable. I will be sad when I don’t have to go anymore. It will rip my heart out because I’ll miss them.”

I have a cousin I’m close with, and she’s a nurse practitioner. She and I always say we’re caregivers. Everybody in my family is like that. My grandmother gave birth to a very strong woman. And those women gave birth to strong women. I’m stubborn and blessed. I am blessed with the people in my life and with Whittier and their staff. I want to be a part of stories of encouragement because many people just give up immediately, and you just cannot. No matter how bad it hurts, you keep stretching, and you keep doing your exercise. I’m so grateful. So you tell Alfred, the owner, for me, ‘Good job, you’ve got great staff.’”

Thank you, Diane, for sharing your story with others!

We hope that when people read it, they will be encouraged and inspired by your amazing recovery in the wake of devastating loss.  We know you had a choice in your healthcare, and we are so grateful you chose us to help you and your family along your journey.  Our staff will always feel blessed to have known you!

In the photos: At top, Diane with her Physical Therapist Michelle P. at Whittier. Below, Diane and her husband, Chris.



Why Work at Whittier Heath Network in MA