Parkinson’s patient plants trees of gratitude for hospital staff

 Joe Willner with Osborne Park Hospital staff Katriona Russell, Roshni Naran, Sara Freeman, Jo Pye, Anne Pielage, Darshini Richards and Jo Davey.
Joe Willner with Osborne Park Hospital staff Katriona Russell, Roshni Naran, Sara Freeman, Jo Pye, Anne Pielage, Darshini Richards and Jo Davey.

AN Osborne Park Hospital patient has planted trees to honour staff that care for him.

Joe Willner, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 14 years ago, recently travelled to Israel with his wife Sue and had a grove of 18 trees planted on behalf of staff at the Stirling hospital.

Mr Willner made the donation to the Jewish National Fund project to show appreciation for treatment he has received through the hospital’s north metropolitan Parkinson’s service for the past five years.

He said the neurological disorder had become more aggressive in the past few years.

“I think the staff at Osborne Park Hospital are fantastic and it’s great that they have a holistic approach to my treatment,” he said.

“I can see medical specialists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, social workers and of course the Parkinson’s nurse specialists all in one place,” he said.

Parkinson’s affects about one in 308 people and more than 100,000 Australians live with the condition.

Symptoms include slowness of movement (bradykinesia), muscle rigidity, tremors, cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, speech and swallowing difficulties, and vision issues.

World Parkinson’s Day was on April 11 when Mr Willner shared a message of encouragement for other people with the condition.

“Keep fighting, which is easier said than done sometimes, but persistence will eventually pay off,” he said.

“If we want shade tomorrow we must plant trees today.”