For 73-year-old Rosie Kluth walking the halls of Akron Children’s Hospital was like a step back in time when she and her family, including daughter Dr. Lisa Eggleston, a pediatrician in the Barberton office of Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, stopped by for a tour on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Rosie, who grew up near Youngstown, used to regularly travel to Akron during the summers between 1944 and 1952 to have corrective surgeries for a club foot and cleft palate. Rosie’s aunt lived in Akron and insisted she come to Akron Children’s for treatment after learning her niece wasn’t making progress under the care of doctors near her hometown.
“The bone in my leg was extremely distorted and it took dozens of surgeries and castings throughout my childhood to correct the problem since I was constantly growing,” Rosie said. “My mother never told me ahead of time when a surgery was scheduled because she didn’t want me to get anxious and worry. Instead, she would tell me the day before she got a call that a bed was available and we were heading to Akron.”
Club Foot + Cleft Palate = Multiple Surgeries
Rosie endured more surgeries through age 23 and eventually went on to pursue a career as a geriatric physical therapist. One of her first jobs was in a Cleveland hospital where she crossed paths with Dr. Ned Kluth, a dental resident, who fitted Rosie with an obturator – a prosthetic device that helped improve her hypo-nasal speech, a result of her cleft palate, which she was very self-conscious about.
“I endured a lot of teasing as a child and didn’t really feel comfortable with myself until I was a young adult,” she said.
As a gesture of thanks she invited Ned to dinner, even though she was dating an intern from New Zealand.
“My Italian mother who loved to cook commented that Ned seemed nice, but was too skinny,” Rosie recalled. “I remember telling her I just brought him to dinner; I’m not going to marry him!”
Fast forward 43 years, Ned and Rosie now have 2 adult children, Eric, a minister, and Lisa, in addition to 6 grandchildren.
Mother’s Experiences Taught Pediatrician Compassion
When asked whether her mother was an impetus for her career choice, Lisa said Rosie’s experiences have definitely influenced how she interacts with patients.
“My mom taught me compassion,” Lisa said. “As a child she spent many days alone in the hospital, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have a family who loved and cared about her. I’ve learned to not be judgmental or jump to any conclusions with my own patients. ”
Lisa joined ACHP Barberton in September 2014 when she and her husband, Justin, an emergency medicine physician at Akron General and 4 children relocated to the area from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to be closer to family.
“ACHP has been a good fit for me,” she said. “It’s a great group of doctors, staff and administrators.”
In 2011 Rosie started to experience kidney failure and spent 14 months on dialysis before receiving a kidney from Ned. In 2013 she suffered a stroke.
Lisa credits her mom’s remarkable recovery from her recent health setbacks to sheer determination.
“The fact that she was a physical therapist is a big part of why she has recovered so well,” said Lisa. “She went from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane in a span of 3 to 4 months. She knew what to do to help her own rehabilitation.”
Rosie still has some coordination issues and slower reflexes, which caused her to give up driving. But overall she’s thankful for what she can do.
“I’ve never let my deficits define who I am and I’m not going to start now,” she said.
About Kathy Johnson
Kathy Johnson is a freelance writer, editor and public relations consultant with nearly 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry.