By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It was over 50 years ago that Doug Maund, founder of Athens Pharmacy, and the late Dr. William Pennington, a well known and beloved “country doc” in the truest sense, teamed up to found the long-term and rehabilitation facility at 611 Market Street, now known as Athens Health And Rehabilitation, LLC. In April of 2017, AHR broke ground on a new facility on the east side of the existing set of buildings that is called the Restore Therapy Pavilion. It is now 11 months later, and the beautiful, state-of-the-art facility is open for business.
Lory Walmsley, the Admissions Coordinator at AHR’s Restore Therapy Pavilion, told me, “People don’t understand that the importance of therapy is greater than just about anything else in this type of facility. There is speech therapy, occupational, physical and memory therapy, and more. Those services are what make it possible for people to go home and live well.” Speaking of therapy, let’s talk about the art on the walls and in the rooms. I have never seen anything like it in a place like this. There are photo/paintings on the wall that are so mesmerizing that if I worked at Restore I would probably get fired because I wouldn’t be able to keep from finding an excuse to look at them. Art this beautiful can have a profound effect on people as they are recovering, and Lory and I joked that we would fight each other over the one hanging on the wall on the way to the dining room.
Ahhh… the dining room. There are crisp linen tablecloths on the tables, and in the kitchen, there is a marble counter that has convection heating elements below and completely removable chafing dishes on the top. The marble stays cool, and the food stays hot. The sign outside the serving room simply says, “Nourishment.” It is indeed that, and so much more. Sitting in a lovely dining room is another type of therapy; one of community, enjoying food together, and perhaps sitting up just a little straighter while placing a cloth napkin in one’s lap can serve as a form of occupational therapy.
I spoke with Nathan McGriff, who is Restore Therapy’s Physical Therapy Director at AHR. Nathan’s parents are both nurses, and he grew up in Sulligent. “I was always around the medical profession,” he said, “and at first I thought I would do high-level sports rehab and therapy.” He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Jacksonville State, and then received his PTA certification from Wallace State. He has 12 years of experience with everything from athletes to geriatrics. The new Restore Pavillion is like a dream come true for Nathan. “First of all, it’s huge. There is room to do everything,” he said. He then showed me a harnessed-based movement system that is suspended from the ceiling and travels along tracks. Four people can be receiving therapy at once, and there is no possibility of any of them falling. Because they are not dependent on the therapist for balance, the therapist is free to be more observant as to their movements and improvements. Being in the harness also makes it possible for rehab patients to do movements earlier because of the support from the system. It speeds up recovery.
Another exciting feature of the new Restore Therapy Pavilion “gym” is a full kitchen, complete with a washer and dryer and bathroom. This will be the testing ground for those that are good candidates to return home to unassisted living, and it’s a fun one. “They might make brownies,” said Nathan, and have the satisfaction of creating something delicious, as well as demonstrate the level of their recovery. They do not go home until they can do a load of laundry, and take care of all their personal hygiene needs.
Lory told me that AHR has many special features that set it apart. There is no charge for a private room. There are flat screen TVs in each room, and in the only two semi-private rooms, each person has their own TV and controls. Each room has a mini-fridge. Most importantly, AHR accepts an unusually high number of insurance programs, including Medicare, United Health, Blue Cross, Humana, Health Spring, and more. If this is the kind of care for which you are looking, either for yourself or a loved one, then call the Restore Therapy Pavilion today at 256-232-1620 to schedule a tour, and be sure to take the time to thoroughly enjoy the care and beauty of the staff as well as the facility.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner