According to a Facebook post from Columbus Division of Fire, the project started back in November after paramedics responded to Kay Werk’s home for an emergency. She is a mental health professional who has assisted the department with many crisis interventions.
She suffered a stroke 10 years ago and now uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.
“She was wedged in the bathroom, trying to get out of her wheelchair and had fallen. She had hurt her leg, and of course she didn’t want to be transported. But it started to swell, so we convinced her to go to the emergency room. An ER X-ray revealed the fracture,” said EMS supervisor Lt. George Wallace.
Werk was hospitalized for five days and then spent another couple weeks in physical rehab. She also contracted COVID-19, which delayed her return home.
The firefighters decided to spend that time making her place more accessible. They said her bathroom was way too small and they didn’t want her to get hurt again.
“It was obvious her place was no longer safe, and not a good option for her. It was built in 1959, and not set up for a wheelchair. She’s at a point where she needs to make some hard choices about her living arrangements,” said Wallace.
As word got out about their project, he said people from all over the city offered to lend a hand whether it was in the form of labor, supplies or donations.
Werk finally got to see the finished project on Jan. 18. She was in complete disbelief.
“All these people here to help me? It’s hard to find the words. It’s not undeserved help, but the sense of support and safety is so nice. The investment in time, energy and thoughtfulness by everybody. It’s overwhelming,” said Werk.
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