The senior physical therapist at Saint Joseph Hospital, Jennifer Curd, PT, has helped patients improve their strength, mobility, function and quality of life for 35 years. These days, she works mostly with patients who have chronic wounds or lymphedema, which is swelling in the arms or legs that can occur if the lymphatic system is damaged. Lymphedema is a common side effect of cancer treatment.
“I work with a lot of patients who’ve had cancer, and I become part of their support system,” Curd said. “It’s exciting to see progress, such as when a patient is able to wear shoes again after swelling in the feet improves.”
Curd is devoted to her patients — she’s even been known to sew custom compression garments for them at home. Earlier this year, her skill, compassion and selflessness earned her the 2019 Saint Joseph Hospital Employee of the Year award and 2019 CHI Saint Joseph Health Employee of the Year award.
“I was taken aback to win the award for all of CHI Saint Joseph Health,” Curd said. “Most CHI Saint Joseph Health employees give their best every day and put patients first, so to be picked out of so many others in the health system, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Hope on the Run
Curd stays busy when she’s not caring for patients. She’s active in her church, volunteers as a ticket taker or usher at the Lexington Opera House, and runs three to five miles every Monday night with a group of friends. She’s been a runner for decades, and she competes in about 10 races every year ranging from 5Ks to half marathons.
Curd was training to run the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon this spring, but when it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she made the best of the situation by deciding to run a virtual half-marathon. She maintains that positive, hopeful spirit whether she’s putting in miles or helping patients realize what’s possible.
“When I’m running, I’m always striving to get better and improve what God has given me,” Curd said. “It’s the same with physical therapy. I see little changes in me, so I know other people can make little changes, too.
“Physical therapists provide hope and a pathway to better quality of life. I believe people can always get better, physically or mentally.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.