On July 12th, 2017, Bernie made a life changing dive into her family swimming pool that left her with a shattered C5 vertebrae and severe spinal shock.
Currently, Bernie is in the trauma-shock intensive care unit at a hospital in Pittsburgh. Because of complications that sometimes come along with spinal cord injuries, she is currently being assisted by a ventilator. Minor setbacks have left her on the ventilator for longer than expected. Doctors have stated she will have some sort of permanent paralysis, but the extent of her impairments will remain unknown until the ventilator is removed, and she is able to verbally communicate. Up until this point, she has only shown movement in her upper arms while the rest of her body remains paralyzed.
Bernie has been the heart of our dental office for 15 years. As Dr. Thomas' assistant, not only is she an amazing employee, but she has over the years become a part of our family. Bernie also has a family of her own that started 16 years ago when she married SFC Gary Sandy - Sergent First Class who has 22 years in the Army National Guard A Company, 103rd BEB. Together they have three beautiful children who are ages 15, 12, and 9. One of these children became a part of the Sandy Family nearly 4 years ago when Bernie and Gary opened their home to a young boy who was in need of a loving and supporting environment, and today they are more than proud to call him their son.
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The Sandy Family, while insured, will face hefty medical bills due to the extensive care Bernie's injuries are requiring her to have. According to the Christopher and Dane Reeve foundation, the costs of a spinal cord injury can cost up to $1,000,000 dollars in the first year alone. Once discharged from the hospital, Bernie will move into a costly inpatient rehabilitation facility where she will endure long strenuous hours of all types of therapy to regain even a fraction of the mobility she once had. Even though Gary is a public school teacher, he and his kids could face significant finacial challenges considering the chance that Bernie may never be able to work again. Looking into the future, when Bernie is finally able to go home and once again live with her family, her home may not be conducive to the condition she is in. While her injuries are not specifically determined at this moment, the need for numerous accomodations to her home is very possibile. Wheelchair accessibility and ramps, an electric bed, transfer boards and benches, and numerous assistive devices for simple daily living tasks all could be future expenses for the Sandy Family.
Learn a little more about who Bernie is:
"Bernie has been and will always be my right hand man. Her love of life and love of our patients can not be replaced in our office. Therefore she HAS to return to our office one way or another." - Dr. Dale Thomas DMD
"I love her so much, and I hate being at work without her. We take care of each other. Six years ago, when a tragic motorcycle accident left me with several serious injuries, Bernie stood by my side through all the ups and downs I faced, and she was one of the biggest parts of my recovery. "Bestie" is what she always calls me; she is not only my best friend but I consider her one of my dearest family members." - Kelly Marino, Office Manager
"In the 5 years I have known Bernie, she has touched more lives than she will ever know. She would, and has, given the shirt of her back to anyone in need. She truly is an amazing person. Bernie has brought so much joy and laughter into my family's life. Knowing that she is the one in need of help will be extremely hard for Bernie to face considering she is always the one helping others. Her sense of humor and love of life is one of the many reasons I love going to work every morning. Not to mention, her cooking abilities are unparalleled. She always knows how to please everyone's different tastes, and it amazes me every time. Our team TFD will stand by her side no matter what." - Ashley Clyde, Hygienist
"Bernie is the most selfless person I know. For as long as I have known her, she has always been the first to give advice or help to anyone that needs it. Anyone who has met her knows this." - Nicole Brown, Dental Assistant
- Crystal Keith
- Colleen Zenobi
- Duquesne Elementary School Staff
- Michelle Kimmell
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