Photo by Mike Lawrence
Harry Rubinstein never had used Twitter before his wife had a stroke Aug. 15. After his son and daughter-in-law set up a way for him to provide his family with medical updates via Twitter, Rubinstein now is trying to share that knowledge with others through a site called Tweet for Health.
Learn more about Tweet to Health, Harry Rubinstein’s developing organization to help families communicate with loved ones during health emergencies, at http://twitter.co... href="http://twitter.com/rockyrubinstein">. Rubinstein also invites people to see an example of how Twitter can help families at http://twitter.com/rockyrubinstein, the Twitter account Rubinstein used after his wife’s stroke Aug. 15.
E-mail Rubinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steamboat Springs A Steamboat Springs man, inspired by events local and national along with his own recent experience, is developing a website to help people communicate with loved ones through Twitter after health-related emergencies.
Harry Rubinstein said before his wife, Gina, had a stroke Aug. 15, he never had used the Twitter website, which allows short messages to be conveyed to large audiences in an instant. Rubinstein is not very experienced with computers and never even had sent a text message through a cell phone, he said. But soon after his wife’s health took that unexpected, traumatic turn, his phone began ringing off the hook.
“It was unbelievable, the phone calls. I couldn’t keep up,” Rubinstein said Sunday at his home near the slopes of Mount Werner. “We didn’t realize how many friends we had until this happened. … I wanted to let people know what was happening, but I couldn’t.”
As anyone who has been in a similar situation knows, Rubinstein wasn’t focusing on his phone — he was at his wife’s bedside.
So, his son and daughter-in-law stepped in. Rubenstein said his son, who’s studying at Duke University, bought him a new cell phone, introduced him to Twitter and showed him how to send messages from the new phone to their entire circle of family and friends. Rubinstein named the Twitter account “RockyRubinstein,” calling his wife Rocky because her stroke occurred near Philadelphia, she’s left-handed like the fictional boxer of movie fame, she’s a fighter and she yearned for her home in the Rocky Mountains.
He sent more than 500 messages after his first tweet Aug. 24.
Rubinstein said on the rare days when he didn’t send out an update on Gina’s health, the phone calls would return, as some of the more than 50 people signed on to the account wondered whether anything was wrong.
Gina Rubinstein now is at home with Harry in their Norwegian Log condominium off Ski Trail Lane, continuing her recovery and improving daily.
But Harry Rubinstein said recent events — including the Jan. 8 shootings at a congresswoman’s meet-and-greet in Arizona — have brought the entire experience flooding back.
When President Barack Obama announced during a speech last week that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, one of at least 19 people shot in the rampage that killed six, had opened her eyes, Rubinstein remembered exactly when Gina opened hers after her stroke.
“I could completely identify with that moment,” he said.
Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts also is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, suffered
Jan. 2 while skiing at Steamboat Ski Area. His recovery at Denver Health medical center has progressed through milestones similar to Giffords’ and Gina Rubinstein’s: responding to verbal commands, opening his eyes, physical therapy and more.
Harry Rubinstein said those events caused him to reflect on his family’s experience and realize the value of Twitter. As a Christmas present, his son and daughter-in-law showed him a new website they had made: http://tweettohealth.blogspot.com. The site essentially is a step-by-step Twitter tutorial, showing those who might not be computer savvy how to set up a Twitter account and communicate.
Rubinstein said he hasn’t researched whether other such sites exist. Yampa Valley Medical Center spokespersons could not be reached Sunday to talk about communication services or methods at the Steamboat hospital.
Harry Rubinstein said regardless of other sites, he simply is trying to share what he learned. He might expand Tweet to Health, he said, to include medical information or additional services for families experiencing very trying times.
But right now, he’s just trying to spread news of the idea.
“All I’m trying to do is let people know what a valuable resource tweeting was for me,” Harry Rubinstein said.