In the last five years, the number of children receiving rehabilitative treatment at Akron Children’s Hospital’s Akron campus has increased by nearly 36 percent. And the need continues to grow.
Each day, more than 300 children undergo therapy at our Outpatient and Day Rehabilitation programs. And more than 300 children needing evaluation and treatment through occupational, speech and physical therapy are on a waiting list.
To meet the growing, complex needs of children and families in our community, something had to be done. And once again, our generous community of donors is stepping up to the challenge – with the announcement of a new, multi-million-dollar undertaking to enhance our Outpatient Rehabilitative Services Department in Akron.
Timely support for an in-demand service
Thanks to supporters including the FirstEnergy Foundation, the MPB Charitable Foundation, the Cynthia Parker Matthews Family Foundation and The Lehner Family Foundation, our hospital will undertake an extensive renovation to the Outpatient Rehabilitative Services Department on the second
floor of the Akron campus’ main hospital building.
And it couldn’t come a moment too soon.
In recent years, increased volumes have led to crowded treatment areas, with aging equipment and a lack of office and storage space. The layout of the existing space – which spans multiple buildings – is
“These barriers limit the number of children we can help on a daily basis,” said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO of Akron Children’s. “Early identification of physical and developmental disabilities is crucial. It can help ensure that appropriate interventions are provided to a child as soon as possible. This helps them develop to their full potential, maximize their level of function and avoid further disabilities.”
To accommodate these needs, remodeling and reconfiguring the existing physical space is essential, along with continued investments in highly specialized therapy equipment of all kinds.
But to our donors, the renovation is more than an investment in buildings and equipment. It’s an investment in the health and well-being of our region.
“The goal of FirstEnergy Foundation’s philanthropic support of community-based organizations like Akron Children’s is to enable positive, sustainable changes that make our communities stronger,” said Lorna Wisham, president of FirstEnergy Foundation, which made a $400,000 gift to support the project. “Healthy families make healthy communities and as a leading health care provider in this region, Akron Children’s has the capacity to implement operational changes that will positively impact our community in the long term. Through this capital improvement program, specifically, the Rehabilitation Services Renovation Project, Akron Children’s will transform lives and provide the specialized care for children and families in our community for years to come.”
Improved access meets state-of-the-art care
Once complete, the renovated department will include 33 general therapy rooms; three group therapy rooms; two sensory integration gyms; separate infant/toddler, pediatric and adolescent/adult gyms; an expanded waiting area; a speech testing space; a physical therapy track; an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Team space; and a small apartment designed to simulate independent living, including a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.
“The whole project is impressive,” said Debra Calevich, retired COTA, who along with her four siblings is a trustee of the MPB Charitable Foundation, which made a $250,000 gift to support the renovation. “I
had a chance to see firsthand how the hospital commits itself to its patients and its caseload. Akron Children’s has an impressive reputation in our state. Our charitable foundation is honored to be able to
help such an outstanding organization. We are thankful that we can help.”
“We’re very fortunate to have a facility like Akron Children’s accessible to us, our kids, our grandchildren
and our community,” said Robin Compton, executive director of The Lehner Family Foundation, which made a $100,000 contribution to the project. “We continue to support the pediatric health care at Akron Children’s with current and future needs of the patients, the hospital and the community.”
The Cynthia Parker Matthews Family Foundation also contributed $175,000 toward the expansion. And while our generous donors have helped get this project off the ground, there are still many opportunities for the community to support what will be a state-of-the-art department that is inviting and kid-friendly.
“This is for our future generation,” said Gordon Ewers, president of the board of The Lehner Family
Foundation. “What could be more important?”