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Mandy Snively is an occupational therapy/physiotherapy assistant at our Regional Rehabilitation Centre. After spending time as a patient at Hamilton Health Sciences, she has a stronger sense of what it’s like to be a patient. Snively is pictured here working with patient Gary Chambers.
March 13, 2024

Bad break leads to new perspective for HHS staffer

Mandy Snively’s caring disposition attracted her to a career in health care, as an occupational therapy/physiotherapist assistant at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).

But Snively’s capacity for caring reached new heights after she became a patient at HHS Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) for just over a week in the fall of 2022, for surgery on a badly broken leg.

Mandy Snively

“I feel that being cared for in hospital and going through a long recovery has made me more empathetic to my patients’ experiences and struggles, allowing me to see a different side of our patients’ journey,” says Snivley, who has worked at HHS for 15 years. For the past 10 years she has been based at HHS Regional Rehabiltation Centre, next door to HGH. Before that she worked at HHS St. Peter’s Hospital and HHS Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.

Brittle bone condition causes broken leg

Snively was on maternity leave in September 2022, caring for her baby and toddler, when she broke her leg in a fall. “I was standing on a bed at my mother’s house trying to cover a window in order to darken the room so my baby could sleep, when I twisted my leg, breaking it,” says Snively, who has osteogenesis imprefecta, better known as brittle bone disease. This inherited bone disorder causes bones to break easily. Snively, who has a mild form, had previously broken bones in her feet, but never anywhere else.

Image of Mandy Snively’s break.

While in HGH’s spine and orthopedic surgery unit for surgery and recovery, she was cared for by a team of medical professionals that included occupational therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapy assistants and physiotherapy assistants just like her. Team members helped Snively transfer from the bed to a wheelchair and back, and reach the washroom.

“I can’t say enough kind words about the care I received from everyone at HGH,” says Snively. “The entire staff were all amazing.”

New appreciation for the patient experience

A woman in a wheelchair sits with a toddler on her lap.

Mandy Snively with her daughter Zoey.

Snively spent the next four months living with her mother and two young children, since her home isn’t accessible. She used a walker for 10 weeks, and her recovery also included physiotherapy in the community. In November 2023 she had day surgery to remove hardware in her leg, and is back to working full time.

“Everyone’s story is different, but I feel that I can support my patients better now,” says Snively, who works with patients who have had a stroke or brain injuries.

“While I haven’t experienced their challenges, I’ve experienced what it’s like to be stuck in the house, unable to do the things I once enjoyed, like playing with my kids. It gave me an appreciation of what our patients go through.”