It was a scene straight out of that old campy commercial from the 1980’s. Hoping to relieve her back pain, Ruth Triebwasser went to sleep on a recliner instead of her bed. Sometime during the night, she slid off the chair and could not get up.
In the original television ad for a medical alarm bracelet company, the actress playing the elderly woman who falls, uttered the now famous catchphrase, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” A friendly dispatcher immediately assured her help was on the way. But in real life things are more complicated. And on that day, of all days, she can’t remember why, but Triebwasser wasn’t wearing her medical alert bracelet. “I wear it always. That night I didn’t have it on.”
The frail, elderly Miami Gardens resident would spend nearly 24 hours on the cold tile floor before firefighters broke in to rescue her, and there is no telling how much longer she would have lain there, or if she’d even be alive today were it not for the NeighborhoodHELP™ (Health Education Learning Program) team.
“We knocked on the door and we didn’t get an answer,” said Faisal Rahim, a second year medical student at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Rahim is one of the members of an interprofessional team that visits Triebwasser once a month as part of the Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP™, a key component of the College of Medicine curriculum.
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