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On July 12, 2017, Donora Resident Bernie Sandy 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.

The Sandy Family, while insured, will face hefty medical bills due to the extensive care Bernie's injuries are requiring her have. 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 Bernie’s husband Gary is a public school teacher, he and his kids could face significant financial 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 accommodations to her home are very possible. 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.

Thomas Family Dental in Finleyville, where Bernie is currently employed as a dental assistant, has started collecting donations to help the Sandy family with their expenses. Those interested in supporting the Sandy family with a donation can do so at www.gofundme.com/strengthforsandyfamily. To send a card, please address it to Bernie Sandy, c/o Thomas Family Dental, 3506 Washington Ave., Finleyville, PA 15332. Updates on Bernie’s condition can be found on the Thomas Family Dental Facebook page.

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