April 18, 2024

Allina Health to cut rehab program for brain injury survivors

The Community Reintegration Program helps clients regain independence and everyday life skills.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn — A life-changing rehabilitation program for people with brain injuries will end in a couple of months. 

The Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute is part of Allina Health. Employees say the institute’s Community Reintegration Program will end Sept. 8. Now they’re beginning to inform clients like Ken Haines and Matt Stifter.

A casino game supervisor, Haines enrolled in the program during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My stroke was Easter Sunday of 2020,” Haines said. “Shuffling cards and pulling the cards out of the shoe were near impossible.”

Four months later, Stifter joined the program.

“I worked at a heavy metal factory,” Stifter said. “A chain caught on a piece of steel and when it unhooked from the piece of steel it hit me.”

For five hours per day, three days per week, they worked alongside fellow brain injury survivors to relearn everyday life skills. 

“Like I told my wife, ‘Don’t tell me. Write it down or text it to me. That way I won’t forget something,'” Haines said. “So you learn different ways to manage things that used to be – you took for granted.”

Haines and Stifter emphasized that even though they completed the six-month program, recovery will last a lifetime. They still attend classes and support groups.

According to the program website, 61% of participants “demonstrate improvements in problem-solving and reasoning challenge upon completion.” While Haines is still unable to shuffle cards like he used to, he’s found new work at a golf course and says he feels blessed to be alive. Stifter says he cannot work because he’s considered 100% disabled.

“I have to use my cane because my balance is so messed up and I’m dizzy,” he explained.

The gentlemen say they’ve become close friends with each other and others from the program.

“We’re just like family,” Stifter said.

Wednesday, Allina Health announced it’s getting national recognition for stroke care, receiving 19 American Heart Association awards across eight of its hospitals.

It comes as employees alerted KARE 11 to the Community Reintegration Program cancellation. They say there are few programs like it nationwide, with the closest options being in Denver and New York.

“It makes no sense to us,” Stifter said.

“I’m very confused,” Haines added.

Allina responded to the inquiry with the following statement:

“As part of our efforts to address our current financial challenges, Allina Health has made the difficult decision to close the Community Reintegration Program. 

We understand this may be difficult for those in the program, and we will provide 1-on-1 coordination to help program clients access similar outpatient services through Allina Health Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and in the community. 

Allina Health Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute appreciates the opportunity to have served about 40 clients a year through this program and will continue to provide services to the more than 116,000 clients that come to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute for care each year.”

Last week, Allina announced 350 layoffs system-wide, also citing “unprecedented financial challenges.” 


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