Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Keeping Moving with SCI
“I definitely wanted to do something,” said 53-year old Veteran, Geno Henderson. After finishing high school in 1979, Henderson served in the U.S. Air Force as a corrosion control specialist at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in New York. He prepared, maintained, inspected and repaired air craft.
Henderson transferred his Air Force skills to a warehouse job where he worked until 1989 when he suffered a spinal cord injury from an automobile accident. At the time, Henderson had two small children, and he spent the next decade watching his children grow. “I was happy to be around my children. I wasn’t focused on jobs, or myself, really.”
In 2001, he moved to Coatesville, Pa. and began working as a greeter at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. He enjoyed getting out, and seeing people. The arrangement also made it simpler to access specialized VA spinal cord injury care and services through the medical center.
Today, Jennifer Negron, a social worker who oversees Coatesville’s Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Program, helps coordinate Henderson’s care between his Coatesville team, including provider Faith Joyce, and those at the East Orange VA Medical Center in New Jersey.
Part of Henderson’s care, and the 75 Veterans from Coatesville who participated in the program in 2014, is provided through an annual visit to the East Orange VA Medical Center in New Jersey, where specialists provide a comprehensive examination that takes several days. The evaluation typically assesses pain, body systems, and medication and medical equipment needs. Specialists also work with participants on maximizing independence through coping psychologically with the injury, participating in recreational activities, and maintaining family relationships.
The team of specialists at East Orange and the Veteran use Clinical Video Telehealth – similar to video teleconferencing equipment – to meet virtually with the Coatesville team during the annual visit. Together, they develop a care plan for the year, and stay on track through follow up meetings.
Throughout the year, the Coatesville team can use Store & Forward Telehealth as needed to acquire and store a Veteran’s clinical information such as data, image, sound or video. The technology enables the specialists at East Orange to then read the health information, and develop the right treatment plans.
The program has truly impacted Henderson’s life. For someone who set out to do something, and who is naturally independent, the program has helped him to live that way in spite of his injuries. “I became my usual, independent person again. Both VAs were so instrumental in helping me to do that.”
Henderson greets each day with enthusiasm, much of the time working his job at Chuck E. Cheese’s in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Henderson even competes in the annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which were held in Philadelphia, Pa in August. From 2002 through 2014, he has enjoyed visiting different cities and participating in games like ramp bowling, slalom and wheelchair rally. But, his true purpose remains: his children, Amanda, 29, and Drew, 31, and new grandson, Denzel. “They are the most important part of my life.”