Riana's story

Riana Evans sitting with 3 of her physical therapists.

A fall changed Riana Evan’s life forever, leaving her a paraplegic.

Following the injury, she was placed on a ventilator. For months she battled complications, including cardiac arrest, a massive blood clot in her lung, severe ulcers requiring extensive plastic surgery and many infections.

When the need for life-saving intervention ended, Riana, still on a ventilator, was placed in a nursing home. Told she was not strong enough to qualify for an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, Riana’s family continued to hope she would be, believing it was the best option for regaining her quality of life.

Kim Boyer, a physician liaison at SSM Rehabilitation Hospital, believed in Riana, too. She stayed in touch with Riana’s aunt, Andrea. Following another lengthy hospitalization, Kim visited Riana and spoke to her physicians about the benefits of inpatient rehab. The following week, Riana was on her way.

Riana said she will never forget arriving in her room and spotting a wheelchair in it.   The thought of getting out of bed and being mobile thrilled her.  A doctor came to speak with her – the first time anyone had addressed Riana’s paraplegia and what she could expect going forward.

Therapy started the next day. Riana said she was scared, but determined to make Kim and everyone else who believed in her proud.

Riana said she felt supported by the entire hospital staff, from housekeepers who kept her room tidy and cafeteria workers who carefully prepared her trays to nurses and techs who brought her hot tea in the evenings. Jackie, her recreational therapist, patiently helped her work craft projects to build dexterity in her fingers, hands and arms.

More than caretakers, they became friends who saw her through the toughest time of her life.

“Zach, Kara, Veronica and Craig all treated me with kindness and tough love when I needed it,” she said, adding that Drs. Ogle and Benes went “above and beyond” to listen to her needs. “They took such amazing care of me, teaching me about my injury and life ahead.”

Riana is home now with her daughter, looking forward to visiting the staff soon. She’s eager to show how all of their hard work has paid off.

Ladonna, Riana’s mother, added, “It was a long, hard eight-month journey getting there. But thanks to Kim, who went above and beyond to make it happen, and all of the staff, we have her home.”