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St. Mary Medical Center expands pediatric rehab, will double capacity

APPLE VALLEY – Construction is underway on an expansion of St. Mary Medical Center’s pediatric rehabilitation program, doubling the size of the only hospital-based therapy services in San Bernardino County’s High Desert region.

Completion is scheduled by the end of the year on a project made possible by two major donors who provided a combined $200,000 toward the $300,000 project. The center provides physical, speech and occupational therapy.

“This is huge in terms of the impact on families who would otherwise be on a waitlist or drive elsewhere for the care their children need,” said John Kozyra, the hospital foundation’s chief philanthropy officer. The nearest hospital-based pediatric rehab programs are an hour-drive from Apple Valley, one way, a trip parents would make twice weekly.

For Vivian Brooks, director of respiratory and rehabilitation therapy services, it’s not just professional. This expansion that will allow therapists to treat up to 22 children a day is personal. Her 2½-year-old grandson, a former patient, is thriving. Little Onyx Davis was just 2 pounds when he was born 11 weeks premature. He spent his first three months in neonatal intensive care and over the next several months experienced developmental delays due to his premature birth. 

Occupational therapist Joan Tillett worked with Onyx, who was at the rehab center for 32 sessions. He learned to scoot on his belly, to sit up, to follow simple directions and to pick up items, carefully using tiny fingers. And now the toddler walks, runs and throws. “He’s doing great now!” his grandmother says.

Most of the youngsters who visit the center are, like Onyx, developmentally delayed. A large number have autism and there are children with Down syndrome or who have had surgery and undergo physical therapy.

Brooks is among the family members grateful for the community’s continuous support of St. Mary, helping to expand, to build and to equip health care services in the High Desert to continuously advance healthcare.

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