It was April 2021 and things were looking up. Spring was on the horizon, COVID-19 vaccines were beginning to take hold, and there was renewed hope for a return to life as we formerly knew it.
But for Genevieve Fagan, known fondly as Gen, life took an unfair turn. While out on a walk with a family dog, her pet took chase after a flurry of birds — following them swiftly under a row of nearby bushes. Gen didn’t see it coming. “I lost my balance, fell down, and hit my head which knocked me out,” she recounts, shaking her head in what almost seems like irritation. An extraordinarily young 88; mother of five; former schoolteacher; avid golfer, volunteer and lifelong doer, Gen Fagan is not used to being slowed down.
The fall was significant — causing a severe hip fracture which required surgery and a 13” titanium rod in her left leg. Following five days in the hospital, Fagan moved to Ridge Crest at Meadow Ridge for rehabilitation. “When I got there,” says Fagan, “I said to my kids, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’” Fagan’s pain was substantial, and it seemed a long road ahead. Her children understood, but one of her sons also understood his mother’s strength and tenacity, “Fight every minute you’re here,” he encouraged, sending regular notes of encouragement and motivation.
And fight she did.
Day after day, Fagan pushed herself forward, through discomfort and challenge, slowly regaining strength, and ability. She returned home after three weeks, promptly dismissing family members who were taking turns helping her husband, Jim, at home. “It was time for all of us to get back to our lives,” Fagan smiled. She started in-home rehabilitation with RVNAhealth’s Mary Steinowitz, PT and Alina McAleese PTA, and on June 1st, Fagan graduated to outpatient physical therapy where she connected with RVNAhealth’s Kate Campbell, DPT.
It was a perfect match. Fagan had her sights set on returning to golf in September and Campbell, a golfer herself who also works with athletes at the Golf Performance Center (GPC) in Ridgefield, understood Fagan’s desire. “Gen Fagan started golfing when she was 16,” says Campbell, “and she loves it. Returning to the course represents a return to her own life and that which gives her joy. Gen’s goal was my goal and it was very gratifying to be her ‘golf therapist’.”
The two worked intensely at the RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center ensuring that Fagan would have the strength, stability, and balance to return to her sport safely. In late July, the two did a trial run at GPC, where Fagan could practice in context — in the rough, in a sand trap, on the green, putting, chipping and using her range of clubs under Campbell’s watchful eye. “It was a total success,” says Campbell. “We intentionally practiced difficult situations that Gen will encounter in play, to be sure she could navigate them safely.”
By early August, Fagan’s report from the course was all-positive. “I played 18 holes in the league yesterday and won low net in my flight. My friends were kidding me that I just said I was doing therapy, but I was really taking golf lessons. Thanks to you, it was both!”