By John R. Schirmer
Howard Memorial Hospital’s pediatric therapy center opened Monday morning, April 5, at 1315 South 4th St. in Nashville. The facility is located in the former flex gym next to O’Reilly’s.
Paul Cox, therapy and rehabilitation director at HMH, said the department had “begun to outgrow our current 4,300 square feet therapy space on the hospital campus” and was looking at ways to expand.
“Crowding concerns with Covid-19 made adding space for therapy even more of a priority,” Cox said.
“We had explored the possibility of expansion on the hospital campus but found the old flex gym to be a great spot to open a second therapy location.”
The new facility “will make it possible for us to separate our adult therapy patients from our pediatric patients for increased space and safety,” Cox said.
The old gym “had a pretty industrial feel to it with metal walls and mirrors. It’e been exciting seeing the transformation of this building over the past couple of months. The 4,000 square foot area received a complete remodel anticipating the needs of our pediatric population,” Cox said.
The change is obvious from the waiting area in front all the way to the large open area in the back where children have lots of equipment to use during therapy. Cindy Petty painted the colorful front area, which bears little resemblance to a traditional waiting room.
Therapists’ offices are located between the front area and the space in the back, again painted for the young patients.
Covid-19 restrictions didn’t allow a hospital gala in 2020, Cox said, so the Howard Memorial Hospital Foundation conducted a year-end letter campaign to raise money for equipment in the new facility. “We really appreciate the generous donations received” from the campaign, Cox said. “The space looks great and is going to be very fun for our kids.”
Cox said there are a number of differences between the new facility and the outpatient therapy center on the HMH campus. Differences are also noted between the pediatric therapy center and the Howard County Children’s Center daycare and therapy program.
“Besides the age of our clients, one of the main differences between our adult therapy center and our pediatric center will be the typical diagnoses seen. Our adult therapy center will continue to see more of the typical diagnosis that come to mind when you think of therapy, like back and neck pain, total knee replacements, sports injuries, strokes, etc.,” Cox said.
“Our pediatric center wil nee children development delays, sensory dysfunctions, autism, cerebral palsy, torticollis, etc.”
Parents may seek the services of the pediatric center if they “notice their child failing to progress with their peer group,” according to Cox. “Why physical therapy, this may be seen with delays in pulling up to cruise or walk. With occupational therapy, this might be a child having difficulty manipulating toys, feeding oneself, or handwriting difficulties. With speech, parents might notice delayed talking.”
The primary difference between the new facility and HCCC “is that we will not be providing any type of daycare service. Children at our center will typically schedule appointments for two to three times per week for 30-minute sessions. Those children attending the children’s center receive therapy during the day while attending daycare,” Cox said.
The pediatric center’s staff “will grow as the caseload grows,” according to Cox.
The closest facilities with similar services are in Arkadelphia and Texarkana, Cox said. As a result, he expects the number of patients to increase.
When that growth occurs, more staff will be added. “We’re limited on therapists more than the space,” Cox said.