Tidwell creates The Vincent Fund to help wheelchair users

November 4, 2022 | 12:11 am

Updated November 3, 2022 | 5:12 pm

Jim and Jennie Tidwell | Photo provided

In 2018, Dr. Jim Tidwell, Owensboro Health’s Vice President of Population Health, experienced a spinal cord injury that resulted in quadriplegia. Four years later, he’s working with Owensboro Health Foundation to create an endowed fund to help those in similar situations. 

Patients with paralysis can often get pressure wounds or have skin integrity issues from sitting or laying in the same position for long periods. As a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Tidwell often treated these complicated wounds. 

“And now, I have this injury that makes me vulnerable to develop that kind of wound,” Tidwell said.

Treatment for these wounds can require surgery followed by a hospital stay in a special bed for

four to six weeks. 

“When you take care of a patient like that, you get to know them really well and the relationship between you becomes more,” Tidwell said.

That was the case with a patient named Jim Vincent — a paraplegic individual who thrives and lives an active life in spite of his injury. 

“He’s so independent,” Tidwell said. “He really was an inspiration to me as a patient, and now, all of a sudden, he has become a mentor to me in my condition. So he’s a special guy to me.”

It was Vincent who brought a common problem to Tidwell’s attention. The special cushions in wheelchairs for paralyzed individuals, which help eliminate pressure points that cause those

wounds, can wear out or become damaged long before insurance companies are willing to replace them.

“Most insurance companies will only replace these cushions every 4 years,” Tidwell said, adding that the same goes for Medicare. “A lot of people who are disabled receive Medicare, so if their cushion wears out or becomes damaged in some way, they may not have a means of replacing it if they’re not at that 4-year mark. Many of them are on a fixed income, and it can be a real challenge to replace an expensive cushion.”

Learning this prompted Tidwell and his wife Jennie to create a fund in honor of all the patients with pressure-related wounds he treated as a surgeon. They named it The Vincent Fund.

The Vincent Fund will allow disabled individuals to purchase replacement wheelchair cushions when needed with the added hope of avoiding pressure-related wounds. 

“Owensboro Health Foundation has the unique opportunity to help people discover the joy of giving,” said Jennifer Keller, foundation board chair. “By connecting their passions and interests to areas of need within the healthcare journey of others, they can make a true impact on the very thing they care about so deeply. We are so grateful to be able to build those bridges.”

Tidwell said the driving force behind this project is, more than anything, to express gratitude to the community for how they cared for him after his accident. 

“To be able to do this is just an immense blessing,” he said.

To learn more about The Vincent Fund, or to become a partner in healthcare with the Owensboro Health Foundation, call 270-688-2113 or email [email protected]

November 4, 2022 | 12:11 am

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