MU Health Care opens expanded children's therapy center

Thursday, October 10, 2013 | 8:02 p.m. CDT; updated 8:36 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 10, 2013
Ryland, 11, left, and Lorelei Dohm, 9, play on the Omnispinner on Thursday at the new therapy playground at the Women's and Children's Hospital. The Omnispinner is a merry-go-round that features transfer stations for young riders with wheelchairs.

COLUMBIA — The playground equipment was ready to be played with and the bounce house was inflated.

Benefactors, families and members of the MU health community gathered Thursday to celebrate the opening of the new MU Children's Hospital Therapy Center, with one of the first therapeutic rehabilitation playgrounds in the country, according to a press release from MU Health Care.

The $1 million center seeks to provide a greater amount of physical, occupational and speech therapy services for children in central Missouri, according to a release about the event.

A fire truck and refreshments were among the attractions available for visitors at Thursday's ribbon cutting ceremony, which also featured tours of the facility.

“We wanted to offer people a chance to see the new facility because it represents a major expansion of rehabilitation services for children in the Central Missouri community,” MU Health Care Spokesman Colin Planalp said.

Several prominent members of the hospital system gave brief remarks at the event. Timothy Fete, medical director of the MU Children’s Hospital, introduced the center and its usefulness to local and rural Missouri residents. He was introduced and followed by Kim Dohm, an occupational therapist who also serves as the clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at the hospital.

Dohm said the 2,000 square-foot outdoor playground was among her favorite parts of the new center. According to the release, the playground cost about $270,000.

“I definitely had a vision for what it would look like, every inch is planned,” Dohm said.

Dohm said the center is now serving 285 patients a week, up from the roughly 230 the center was serving when it first opened in September. The center’s goal is to be serving 400 patients a week by June, Dohm said, but she is hopeful the center will be able to pass that goal before then. Thursday's ceremony allowed Dohm to see the park she had envisioned for the past four years open.

“I feel like I’m floating,” Dohm said. “The main joy I’ve taken is from seeing all the kids having fun on the playground.”

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.

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