DECADES AFTER HIS MOTHER PASSED AWAY, BOB GRIFFIN REMAINS THANKFUL FOR THE CARE PROVIDED AT WASHINGTON HEALTH SYSTEM.
When Joan Griffin married Washington native John Griffin, she relocated to her husband’s home town from Pittsburgh. According to her son, longtime local resident Bob Griffin, Joan “made this community her own, giving of herself for the good of her neighbors and many community causes.”
She served on the local school board and the Washington Health System board. During her final years, Joan reaped the rewards of all the good she sowed. “Mom’s story speaks to the invaluable asset that Washington Health System is to our community,” Bob says. “Every facet of her care was met there. I can’t imagine our community without WHS.”
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
In the fall of 1996, Joan began experiencing dizziness. Her driving ability degraded, leading to several automobile accidents. The following year, walking became difficult. Her meticulous handwriting turned messy. Swallowing issues stole her appetite, and her once-soft voice transformed into a whisper.
Although Joan never complained, Bob insists, “Mom needed answers.” Answers came at the National Institutes of Health, where specialists diagnosed Joan with a rare neurological disorder affecting breathing, blood pressure and motor control. Known as multiple system atrophy (MSA), Joan’s condition shares characteristics with Parkinson’s disease. The condition has no cure and a poor prognosis, so Bob encouraged his mother to rest. Joan had other plans.
LIVING EVERY DAY
Soon after her diagnosis, Joan learned of WHS’s Parkinson’s support group. According to Bob, she thrived on the fellowship. She felt encouraged by others facing similar health challenges. She laughed with new friends. Between group sessions, her primary provider, WHS Internal Medicine Physician James Krebs, MD, managed her disease progression. Therapists at WHS Outpatient Rehabilitation slowed her muscle and motor skill loss. Eventually, the staff at the Donnell House provided end-of-life care. In 2002, Joan returned home one last time, with Bob and his sister by her side.
“She passed away with peace, dignity and love,” Bob says. “We were extremely fortunate to have WHS there for mom and for us every step of our journey.”