We are proud of our Therapia family, and want to show them off! We rely on their hard work and dedication, so that Therapia can provide you the best care possible. In every newsletter, we will be shining the spotlight on a different Therapia Physiotherapist.
Meet Christine Ugarenko, who was one of the first to join our family, and is a master of the “hips and knees”.
- Why did you choose to become a PT?
Well, originally I wanted to be a nurse. But I had an aunt who was a nurse tell me that I should become a physiotherapist instead. Back in my day, physiotherapists worked in hospitals and physiotherapy clinics were not as common. My aunt explained that nurses stayed on one hospital floor while the physio got to move around between floors. “You don’t want to get caught up in the politics” she explained. I always knew that I wanted to help people, and physio seemed like a great way of doing that.
- What is your favorite part of your job?
For me, it’s about giving people hope. It’s the reason why I haven’t changed professions when all my colleagues have either moved on to do other things, or retired. I realized early on in my career, that I loved working with seniors. During school, I worked as a PSW (personal support worker) in a nursing home as my summer job. When I graduated, I worked in an orthopaedic and arthritis hospital. Most of the patients with arthritis were elderly. Within three years, I was the senior therapist in rheumatology. Since then, my quest to help seniors hasn’t stopped. Whether it’s helping an elderly person stay at home, preventing them from having a fall, or supporting their independence, the personal satisfaction I get is immense. Physiotherapy itself is easy, it’s the human aspect that is the art.
- What made you join the Therapia family?
When I heard about Therapia I was working in the public sector doing homecare for seniors, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to get work due to cuts in funding. There were so many people who needed ongoing care, but I was unable to connect with them. I also had less control over where and when I worked, and I found myself on the road driving and doing paperwork more than I was seeing people. Therapia was a way for me to continue doing what I love.
- What was your most memorable patient encounter?
There was a 40 year old man who had three small children, the youngest was still a baby. He was diagnosed with a type of leukemia that tended to go into remission. Unfortunately for this patient, remission was just not happening. When I met him, he was deconditioned, spent 23 hours a day in bed, and could barely walk 10 feet. He was deemed palliative care by his doctors. He had lost the will to live. “I’m dying anyway, what’s the point?” he told me. In response I told him that throughout my career I had witnessed miracle cures. I also told him that everybody only has today, and here you were spending yours in bed. If only you had more muscle strength, you could be spending it with your family. He responded, and I was able to strengthen him. When I was done with his treatment he was up and about, with only a short nap in the middle of the day. I later heard from my case manager that his leukemia had gone into remission, and he was scheduled to undergo a stem cell transplant.