“It Gives Me the Opportunity to Help People and Make a Difference”

April 17th, 2019

After 30 years as a physical therapist, Karen Cox was ready to focus on the part of her career she loved best – the hands-on taking care of people part– without the administrative duties and paperwork that came with a full time job.

The New England native took advantage of a move to Fort Worth in January to start a new chapter of her career, and the setting she was looking for was a part-time volunteer opportunity. She found out about JPS Health Network through a little research on the internet and figured it would be the perfect opportunity for her to help people on her own terms.

Karen Cox

Karen Cox

“I love the patients, just not the paperwork,” Cox said. “I’m at the point of my career where I’m ready to just do the things I want to do, and I love working here. It gives me the opportunity to help people and to know that I am making a difference.”

Meanwhile, the flexibility of a volunteer schedule allows Cox to have plenty of time for other things she wants to pursue in life.

“I am interested in new adventures,” Cox said. “For my 50th birthday I went skydiving. I also like to travel a lot, especially to visit my family, and the flexibility of my schedule here allows me to do that.”

Cox usually works on the fifth floor of the Patient Care Pavilion in the Progressive Care Unit where she specializes in working with recuperating senior citizens, helping them to exercise and increase their ability to ambulate. She also works with geriatric patients on mind exercises designed to fend off delirium and keep their senses sharp.

Kim Pinter, Director of Volunteer Services, said the health network’s volunteer program is fortunate to have such an accomplished and talented volunteer who is willing to donate her time. She said Karen’s case is a great example of how, if a person has a passion to help others, JPS will find just the perfect fit for them.

“I have people from other departments tell me they want to steal Karen away from me by offering her a full-time job,” Pinter said. “If that’s what she wanted, we certainly wouldn’t stand in her way. But she is at a place in her life where she just wants to volunteer and I think that’s wonderful.”

Cox said she couldn’t imagine her life without interactions with her patients.

“It’s rewarding to see progress with patients when you help to re-orient them after they have had an issue with delirium and to help them regain their independence when it comes to things like walking, eating and drinking,” Cox said. “But I also love to be able to reunite them with things they love like reading or music.”

Cox said those kinds of activities have many benefits for patients. They help them sharpen their cognitive skills – but they also increase the patient’s quality of life and help them regain their passion for living after a fall or illness put them in a bed for an extended period of time.

In addition to her wonderful abilities in helping patients, Pinter said Cox is valuable to JPS in other ways.
Her experience allows the semi-retired physical therapist to help train and mentor young volunteers.

“She has so much information to share,” Pinter said. “It’s a great opportunity for young people interested in a career in the medical field to get to spend some time with her and learn from a great role model.”

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