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St. Mary's celebrates new center

May. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- James Morris' slow but sure recovery from a massive stroke at age 26 started with the skilled hand of his surgeon and continues in St. Mary's new $2 million, 20,000-square-foot Outpatient Rehabilitation Services facility. Located in St. Mary's Fifth Avenue campus building, the new center was celebrated Friday with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"I've enjoyed the time I've spent here with my therapist, and they treat me like family," said Morris, whose prognosis was not good following the April 2012 incident. During his first time in physical therapy, he was not even able to hold up his head. On Wednesday, he walked to a podium to address the crowd at the ceremony. "I appreciate the help. It's a really nice place to come for therapy."

The department has grown from a small staff seeing 200 patients a month in 3,500 square feet of treatment space to helping more than 1,500 clients monthly.

"We've come a long way in a short period of time," said Christy Franklin, director of St. Mary's Regional Orthopedic Center and Regional Neuroscience Center. "Thanks to the hospital's administration for seeing the need and providing the resources to make this possible for our community. It's been many months of planning, but a beautiful outcome."

The new outpatient rehab department is located on the corner of 29th Street and 5th Avenue. That campus is also now home to St. Mary's Center for Education and the Marshall University School of Physical Therapy.

The outpatient rehab facility features a gym with installed AstroTurf and other capabilities for sports-related injuries, plyometrics, balance training, general cardio and strength training. There are also dedicated areas for hand therapy of patients with carpal tunnel or arthritis, a driving simulator and a separate wing for the Center for Pelvic Health. Six room have been designated as treatment rooms, and space has been allocated specifically for traction, pediatrics, speech, lymphedema and balance.

"We offer physical, occupational and speech therapy under one roof and all the specialty services, all in one-on-one therapy," said Adam Forrest, manager of rehabilitation services at St. Mary's.

Forrest said an industrial therapy area to prepare an individual to return to the work force is also in the plans. They are recruiting a therapist and placing equipment and hope to have it functional by the end of the year, he said.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who spoke at the ceremony, said the legacy of the building, which once housed both Sears and Big Bear, will shift from grocery store to healing facility.

"We won't look back now and say, 'This was the old Sears or the old Big Bear.' We'll say this is a place where people are being healed," Williams said.

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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