Joshua Holum, 28, of Enterprise, who was seriously injured in a Wallowa River canyon accident the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is still a patient at Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.

However, he is ready for intensive physical rehabilitation, and the family is waiting for the Oregon Health Plan to accept him on its rolls.

Holum suffered a skull fracture, brain damage and a broken neck in the accident. The hospital kept him in a medical drug-induced coma, completely paralyzed, for three weeks until the swelling in his brain went down.

Don Holum, Josh's father, said his son can walk if supported on both sides, despite the fact "his right arm and leg don't work too well." He recognizes his parents and can talk, Holum said, but it is obvious that he has suffered brain damage and his long-term prognosis is still unknown.

"There's a window of opportunity for intensive rehabilitation and the Oregon Health Plan is dragging their feet," said Don Holum.

Josh Holum had been working part-time as a certified nurses assistant at Wallowa Valley Care Center for only three months and was not covered by health insurance. His father said the problem was not financial eligibility but convincing Oregon Health Plan officials that Josh will be disabled for at least a year. His doctors reportedly sent statements about the need for long-term rehabilitations.

Holum said he planned to contact U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, state Sen. Dave Nelson and other political representatives this week for their help.

"The local DHS (Department of Human Services) office has been fantastic, it's the people in La Grande and Salem," Holum said. He noted that unlike hospitals, rehabilitation centers could refuse patients if they are unable to pay.

Gail Holum, Josh's mother, hasn't left Spokane since her son was flown there after his injury, while Don, who works as Wallowa County Animal Control Officer, has been traveling back and forth. They rented a small guest apartment in an assisted care facility near the hospital in Spokane.

"I really want to express my highest regard to the ambulance crew and trauma team here," Don Holum said. "Without their decisive and immediate care, Josh never would have lived."

He added, "I'm so grateful for the cards, prayers, contributions, letters and support from the people of Wallowa County. We have been overwhelmed. I don't have the words to say how grateful we are."

Since their son's accident, Gail has been hospitalized twice for medical problems and Don's mother, Margery, died at age 75 the day after Christmas.

"It's tough for me personally, but not as tough as the tsunami survivors in Southeast Asia," Holum said. "We still count our blessings in life."

Contributions to help the Holum families with expenses can be made into a fund set up at Community Bank at any branch of the bank.

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