Deans lends a hand wherever it's needed


Emily Deans



Monday, September 23, 2019

Emily Deans, a recreational physical therapist at the Nash UNC’s Bryant T. Aldridge Rehabilitation Center, is the kind of person who sees a need or problem that she can help solve — and sets about making a difference.

Deans said it’s not unusual for the staff at the rehab center to take on a service project.

“We pick organizations or specific civic-type projects to work on as a group all the time,” Deans said. “We’re always working on something.”

The rehab center’s staff meet monthly for a “Carolina Care” committee meeting and discuss ways the staff can have a better impact on patients and the community outside the hospital.

“The overall Carolina Care philosophy at Nash UNC is what my coworkers are all about, all the time,” Deans said. “Thinking with empathy and acting with compassion — it’s just what we do. It’s nice to work at a place where everyone is always reminded of the Golden Rule and how our overall goal is to treat people well.”

The Bryant T. Aldridge Rehabilitation Center recently took Nash UNC’s Carolina Care philosophy out into the community.

Deans said she was one of a few of the rehab center’s staff members who attended the Wright Center’s Annual Gala in the spring. She said she was impressed by what she learned about the center’s mission for offering care for disabled or elderly adults in need of daytime supervision.

“I had never thought about how much those kind of services are needed by families with aging parents or adult family members who need constant care,” Deans said. “Families that deal with that every day need a service like this so the caregivers can get a respite — and it’s a safe, engaging environment for their loved ones to receive care for a few hours.”

The Wright Center is a nonprofit agency that provides care and delays and avoids institutionalized assistance in a cost-effective manner for elders, the chronically ill, people with disabilities or the cognitively challenged. The center does this all while offering the needed respite for caregivers.

At the Wright Center, clients receive community-based, multicultural services to address their health, educational, recreational, social and health needs.

Deans contacted the Wright Center after the event to discuss how the rehab center’s staff might help the agency.

“We ended up with a list of items the Wright Center typically has to purchase or find for free somewhere,” Deans said. “Our staff spread the word internally and collected items for about a month.”

Items included card tables, board games, paper towels and other sundry supplies and prizes for games.

The Wright Center Executive Director Doris Howington said she thinks of Deans as a ray of sunshine.

“Emily has such a big heart. And her enthusiasm for what we do was contagious to her co-workers, I think, and they all were so generous to us. We greatly appreciate how Emily and her co-workers paid it forward with such kindness to us,” Howington said.

As a recreational therapist at the Bryant T. Aldridge Rehabilitation Center, Deans said she has found a way to meld her two favorite things: helping others and a love for being active.

“I’ve always loved being active outdoors and when I discovered there was a job where you could help make people better by introducing them to ways to be active, I knew that was the job for me,” Deans recalled.

She graduated from East Carolina University nine years ago and has been at the Nash UNC since her graduation. She was recently promoted to rehabilitation supervisor.

Deans said she loves the feeling of satisfaction she gets when she helps a patient realize they can do something they didn’t think they could or find something new to engage in that adapts to new limitations.

“It’s very fulfilling to see someone get stronger and healthier and know you had a small part in making that happen. And not just how they’re physically stronger, but more encouraged and empowered and more positive.”