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Eliza’s story

Receiving intense therapy at Orange City Area Health System

At a young age, Eliza was diagnosed with Kleefstra syndrome. Kleefstra syndrome is a rare genetic condition that affects the development process. It often influences muscle tone and development, including movement, learning, and speech. Parents Paul and Julia Clemens looked into intense therapy options for 19-month-old Eliza in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area, but treatments in the Twin Cities had a one year waiting list. For developmental delays, especially in children, it is crucial to start early, so  Paul and Julia  reconsidered their options. 

In May of 2023, the couple inquired about coming to Orange City Area Health System, but they were worried about how their out-of-state insurance would work here in Iowa. After talking with the office staff, Julia said, “The staff was so helpful and understanding about our situation, and we are so grateful for all the work they put into making it possible for Eliza to be a patient of Orange City Area Health System.”    

Eliza arrived at OCAHS during the third week of July, and she spent a little over a week in intensive therapy.  Throughout her care, she used a Universal Exercise Unit (UEU), which is a therapy device that helps patients gain strength and mobility. Eliza was also able to use a gait trainer for the first time to begin working toward taking her first steps.  

Julia expressed her gratitude for working with staff at the hospital:  “We have many people to thank, especially Eliza’s Physical Therapist Monica Aalbers, Speech Therapist Courtney Sexe,  and Occupational Therapist Libby Van Bruggen.”   

Neighboring the hospital is the new Puddle Jumper Park, an adaptive playground. The Clemens were able to witness the grand opening and were thrilled with its accommodating features for all types of abilities. “It was so fun to watch Eliza and her siblings play side by side at a park that took all abilities into its design,” Julia said.  

Paul and Julia and their daughter Eliza, a 19-month child with Kleefstra syndrome, were seeking care in the Minneapolis area. Kleefstra is a rare genetic condition that affects the developmental process, influencing muscle movement, learning, and speech. After looking around the Minneapolis area, they found out it would take a year to start specific therapy treatments.  They made the decision to go to Orange City Area Health System for more timely treatment. Eliza spent over a week in intensive therapy, where she learned to use a Universal Exercise Unit to help gain strength and mobility. With the assistance of a gait trainer, Eliza was able to work toward taking her first steps.