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Published on January 08, 2019

Betty Halama on her lawnmower

Swing Bed helps Betty get 'back to normal'

Betty Halama often finds peace while gliding over her yard on her trusty riding lawnmower.

"I love to mow, and I love being outside," the Whitehall, Wis., resident of more than 50 years shares. "I usually take a trip around the house and around the flower bed that circles the septic tank out back. I've been doing this every week in the spring, summer and fall for years."

This was the routine until Betty's peaceful pastime was violently interrupted in July 2018. While mowing around her deck, Betty's lawnmower suddenly lunged off course.

"I was pinned between the mower and the deck. I knew my left leg was broken. I heard it break," Betty remembers.

Bleeding profusely from both legs, Betty managed to wriggle out of her lawnmower seat and fall to the cement patio. Without a cellphone, Betty crawled up the deck steps, through a three-season porch and into her home to find a telephone to call her daughter for help.

After a quick examination at the Gundersen Tri-County Whitehall Hospital emergency room, Betty was transported out of town for major surgery on her broken leg. After several days in recovery, Betty was transferred back to Gundersen Tri-County Whitehall, where the Swing Bed program was prepared to help Betty through her recovery.

"I knew about Swing Bed because my late husband used it a while back after surgery," Betty says. "I was there at Gundersen Tri-County for 13 days. At first, they did very minor rehab because my legs were still healing. The staff, who were wonderful, would take me to the therapy room to work on my upper body strength."

In addition to helping Betty regain her strength, Gundersen Tri-County staff cleaned and bandaged Betty's wounded leg daily; helped Betty build her leg strength and balance; helped her learn to use a walker for improved mobility and greater independence at home; helped her find foods to aid in her recovery as her appetite returned to normal post-surgery; and helped her set goals for her recovery after she was discharged.

Shortly after returning home in a wheelchair, Betty was moving around her home with the help of the walker after a few weeks and eventually a cane. Just a few months after her horrific accident, Betty was able to walk on her own.

"I don't think I would be where I am today without Gundersen Tri-County's care and encouragement," Betty says. "I can drive my car to church again. I'm back to normal, and it feels great."

If you're looking for Betty once the warm temperatures return, be sure to listen for a familiar hum.

Swing bed is personalized care

Swing Bed is a Medicare-covered, hospital-based program if you no longer need advanced inpatient care, but are not ready to return home. If you're recovering from major surgery or an extensive procedure; need rehabilitation after an extended hospital stay; or need in-depth education for a new diagnosis, Swing Bed may be for you.

Personalized plans from a team of Gundersen Tri-County providers and staff help you recover and return to the activities you enjoy. Services include:

  • Skilled Nursing care
  • Nutrition Services, including customized diets and menus, to meet your personal preference and dietary needs to aid recovery
  • Physical Therapy to help you resume activities like walking, exercising, maintaining balance and building strength and flexibility
  • Occupational Therapy to increase independence for bathing, dressing, grooming, cooking and basic housekeeping
  • Pharmacy for your medication needs
  • Recreation Therapy for activity plans based on your interests and hobbies
  • Respiratory Therapy for education about oxygen and other respiratory needs
  • Social Work to connect you and your family with services and resources during your stay and when you return home
  • Speech Therapy to develop your communication skills, including expressing thoughts, reading and safe swallowing

Learn more: Visit or call (715) 538-4361

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