HERMISTON - Peggy Hirte-Ulhorn's job is to keep senior residents and recovering patients actively involved in life.
Ulhorn is a nationally certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist who works at Rose Arbor Assisted Living and at Kadlec Medical Center. She has been a CTRS since 1991 after completing a five-year program at the University of Idaho, Moscow. A CTRS certification requires a bachelor's degree. She also had to pass a national examine and pay the board to review her credentials.
"They'll tell you if you can sit for the exam, or what you need to sit for the exam," Ulhorn said. "Once you pay and take the exam, you wait for the results. It is pretty comprehensive."
The exam includes strokes, spinal cord injuries and developmental disability therapy and psychology. The exam takes four to six hours and Ulhorn had to travel to Southern California to take her test. She must take continuing education credits (CEU) that are very ridged and pay an annual fee to keep her certification current.
"I usually shoot for one-two CEUs over in case they kick out any units," she said.
Her certification allows her to work in mental health handling depression and other ailments of seniors and recovering patients.
She is trained in aquatic, geriatric, physical medicine, pediatric, oncology and general medicine rehabilitation therapy.
"At Rose Arbor I am using my whole degree, and all the areas I'm certified and trained in," Ulhorn said.
Ulhorn provides modified recreational treatment.
"If a person is really weak, I do exercise one-on-one," she said. "In a group I find out what the tenants like to do and keep them involved both at the community level and at Rose Arbor, and motivate them to do things as a group or on their own."
Her recreational projects at Rose Arbor include peanut auctions, exercise sessions, knitting and crafts, car tours, bingo, music, outings and shopping trips, gardening and more.
"I keep the residents involved in activities they did before coming here," Ulhorn said. "So many kept their own house and yard and all the things that go with that - here they have a home, but with housekeepers, laundry and meals provided. Now they have more time to do fun things. That's where I come in to keep them active."