Less than a month after his seventh birthday, Tristian was diagnosed with a medulla blastoma, a highly malignant brain tumor and the most common brain tumor in children. But rather than being scared, Tristian was relieved to finally know why he had been sick for the last six months.
In the fall of 2007, Tristian began vomiting and getting severe headaches. A CT scan in April 2008 discovered the tumor, and Tristian was immediately admitted to Virginia Commonwealth University Children’s Medical Center. Two days later, he underwent a three-hour surgery to remove the mass, but within a week, suffered a stroke that weakened his right side and impacted his ability to walk, talk, hear and swallow. He spent two months in the hospital before beginning outpatient therapy and radiation at VCU.
In August 2008, after completing his first course of radiation, Tristian transferred his physical therapy and began receiving speech therapy at Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s West Therapy Center. Tristian’s mom, Jessica, said she was glad to make the short drive from her West End home to the West Therapy Center.
Located on West Broad Street near Gaskins Road and conveniently located near Interstates 295 and 64 and Route 288, the West Therapy Center has experienced a steady increase in patient visits since opening more than 11 years ago. The first center rented unused space from a Gymboree location but soon moved to its current site in the Forum office complex.
From 2002-2007, there was an 83 percent increase in patient visits, and during the last fiscal year, the West Therapy Center recorded 9,787 patient visits, up from 8,026 visits the previous year. In October 2008, to accommodate this growth, the West Therapy Center expanded into 1,450 square feet of space for additional treatment rooms and an enlarged waiting room.
“The expansion will allow us to grow and see more patients and more comfortably fit patients in clinical space,” said Sallie Tidman, OT/L, Director of Therapy Services. “We also have a more appealing waiting room and can better accommodate staffing needs.”
The West Therapy Center’s 11-person full-time and nine-person part-time staff provides physical, occupational and speech therapy services five days a week and offers expanded hours to accommodate work and school schedules. Sallie said the proximity of the West Therapy Center to a large number of schools and easy access from many areas of town makes it an attractive option for busy families.
“The West Therapy Center has been embraced as a community location,” said Sallie. “People know about West and know where it is.”
To bring pediatric therapy services to children in other parts of town, Children’s Hospital of Richmond also operates outpatient therapy centers in Fredericksburg, Midlothian and Petersburg, which opened in November 2008.
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