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Pat Grimes

CCU nurse Pat Grimes, left, helps free children from the chains of disability through horseback riding.

Never the type to turn her back on a needy creature, veteran nurse clinician Pat Grimes spends her nights treating patients on the coronary care unit and her Saturdays at Normandy Farm, where she volunteers for a horseback riding program for disabled children.

For four years, volunteering at the Harford County farm has been part of Grimes’ weekly ritual. She finishes her Friday night shift and, without sleeping, heads off to the countryside. “I can be bone tired,” she says. “But once I see how hard those kids are trying, sleep seems pretty unimportant.”

Normandy Farm specializes in therapeutic riding, a widely accepted treatment for disabilities as varied as spina bifida, autism and ADHD. Feeling the movement of the horse’s muscles helps disabled children develop their own, and the sense of accomplishment builds self-confidence.

As both a nurse and a natural with horses, Grimes is a trusted liaison between child and beast. She helps children suffering from cerebral palsy, for example, ease their stiff legs apart so they can get on the horse. She walks beside them and steadies them if they wobble. And if the horse spooks, she knows exactly what to do.

Horses have always been like family to Grimes. As a girl, she’d saddle up a favorite pony and ride off with a packed lunch. As an adult, she kept her own horses. After she was thrown and broke her hip, she stopped riding. For a while, she dabbled with an equine rescue and rehabilitation group. Then, when she discovered the therapeutic program that could meld her love of horses with her nursing profession, Grimes knew she’d found her match.

Grimes had once hoped to become a licensed sign-language interpreter. But that dream was dashed when a test revealed that her own hearing was partially damaged. It was a disappointment that ate at her—until she crossed paths with an 8-year-old therapeutic rider named Zachary. Suddenly, her mastery of horses, her nurse’s helping gene and her seemingly wasted sign-language classes all pointed to him.

Mostly deaf, Zachary threw temper tantrums when the farm’s staff tried to put him on a horse. One day, Grimes began signing to him. Relieved to be communicating at last, Zachary happily got on the horse. Says Grimes, “I felt like all of my training was meant for that moment.”

—Lindsay Roylance

May 6-12 Is Nurses Week
at Johns Hopkins

Hopkins Hospital
May 7: Baseball Game and Bullpen Party.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 6 p.m. By invitation.
May 12: Department of Nursing’s Annual Awards Ceremony. Houck Lobby, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Winners of the Publication Award, the Shirley Sohmer Award and the Nursing Fellowship Award announced. Reception follows.

Hopkins Bayview
May 3: Essay Contest Awards Reception. Pavilion Conference Center, 10 a.m. to noon. Nursing essay winners read their entries and receive prizes. Light refreshments.
May 6: Day- and Night-Shift Pizza Party. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pizza delivered to nursing units.
May 7: Pavilion Conference Center. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors and representatives from nursing magazines and colleges.

Howard County General Hospital
All week long: Lobby display with photos; give-aways; pizza, cake and other treats.

 

 

 

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