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Honoring Bridgett: Pressure Sore Awareness Day held statewide

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SALYERSVILLE – A ceremony was held on Friday, October 11, 2019, remembering a local woman who passed away in 2013 due to complications from pressure sores.

Earlier this year, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed a resolution, sponsored by Representative John Blanton, designating October 12 as Pressure Sore Awareness Day in remembrance of Bridgett Ann Howard, who was the daughter of Tommy and Kathy Howard. Born on June 18, 1981, she was diagnosed at birth with spina bifida, but never let that stop her, keeping a positive outlook through it all. In 2012, she began to suffer from pancreatitis, and during that time, she developed pressure ulcers, known as decubitus. Bridgett lost her battle on October 12, 2013, after becoming septic. 

Blanton also worked with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, amending a Kentucky Administrative Regulation to include stiffer fines for pressure ulcer violations.

“We wanted to bring a positive recognition to something that happened on a tragic day,” Representative Blanton said. “Everyone should be aware, whether they have a loved one who’s in a long-term care facility, a hospital, at home and they are caring for someone – someone who is not physically able to move themselves around within the bed or whatever the type of equipment they are resting on – that long-term laying in one position creates decubitus, or bed sores or pressure sores, where the weight is on certain areas and it begins to thin the skin and leads to many different conditions that can be fatal and at minimum is very painful. The whole purpose of this is to bring awareness.”

Bridgett’s nephew, Steven Howard, read words he wrote two years ago, describing Bridgett as an inspiration. He said that though she was paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, she was one of the most positive people, not letting her condition define her or keep her from living her life to the fullest.

Her dad, Tommy Howard, told Mortimer Media Group at the ceremony, “She was the type of person that if a vehicle was going to leave when she was very young, she wanted to be in that vehicle. If there was a trip planned, she wanted to help plan that trip and she wanted to be there on that trip. She loved country music, and it tickled her to death to be able to get to go with me to Nashville several times and she always loved to go on vacations and she was a very hyped-up type of person to be in the condition that she was in.”

“Bridgett lived her life without limitations, so much that her legacy will live on forever,” Steven said. 

To show the family’s appreciation, Steven presented Representative John Blanton and Magoffin County Judge-Executive Matt Wireman plaques, honoring their work and efforts towards making October 12 as a special day a reality.

“What we were able to do this past February,” Blanton explained, “Tommy came down last summer and testified to the committee and with his testimony and the work that was done, the committee moved forward in support of the cabinet’s change in regulation, that actually took decubitus violation, which is a Type A violation, and it doubled the fine that is placed upon these institutions, trying to encourage them to be more aware, to be more attentive to patients they have in their care. We know that the way you do that is by watching, observing and constantly moving that patient so that those things do not set up on them and how do you get companies to listen? You hit their wallets. So we were able to increase the penalties by a double of what they previously had been up to $10,000. With that we feel like we’ve been able to honor Bridgett and bring recognition or awareness to the decubitus problem that we have.”

Judge Wireman said, “What we did today was recognize the work that has been done by a family to get pressure sore awareness brought to the forefront. I’m glad to be a part of something that brings attention or focus on something that is so important. We in Eastern Kentucky like to take care of our own. We have a lot of folks that do take care of family members who are bedridden at home, and we expect the same care at the facilities where folks can’t keep those folks at home.”

Tommy Howard said, “I’ve always said something good always comes from something bad, even though it was my daughter’s passing. I’m sure she’s looking at us right now and saying, ‘thank you,’ because before she passed away she never had a clue how she died, and by the way it took place I owed it to her and this keeps her name alive throughout Kentucky and hopefully we’ll be able to take it farther. This is just the beginning of bedsore awareness to me.” 
 

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Heather Oney

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