Amy Mooney, lead physical therapist, works with patient Arlene Hassell at the YNHH Rehabilitation and Wellness Center at Milford Hospital. The center celebrates its first anniversary this month.

A year ago, the gym at the Yale New Haven Hospital Rehabilitation and Wellness Center at Milford Hospital was quiet – awaiting the arrival of patients who would make good use of the new space. 

Today, the gym buzzes with activity, as patients on exercise equipment chat, and physical therapists guide patients through weight exercises, and help others re-learn how to walk. 

"Most of our patients are recovering from a stroke or other serious illnesses, trauma and/or major procedures," said Patti Strasburger, RN, patient service manager of the inpatient center. "But the atmosphere here is very upbeat. The patients really encourage and support one another."

The 24-bed center, which opened to patients July 1, 2015, occupies space YNHH leases from Milford Hospital. The Milford Hospital community been very welcoming and helpful and offers "excellent" support services, according to Strasburger. Patients remark on how delicious the food is and the benefits of the volunteer "tender touch" program, she said. 

The center is unique in other ways. Many rehabilitation centers provide therapy to two or three patients simultaneously. The YNHH center provides only one-on-one, intensive therapy, for patients with neurological disorders, trauma, limb loss, joint replacements and other conditions. Patients come from throughout the region to receive the specialized care. The center also provides support services, including a new amputee support group. 

Patients are cared for by a variety of physician specialists, including physiatrists, who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The center's 60 staff members include nurses certified in rehabilitation, along with physical, occupational and speech therapists with advanced skills. 

"We have the best of all worlds," said Nancy Hayden, lead physical therapist. "We're providing individualized, high-quality therapy to each patient and the medical care and support services they need."

 Hayden is among the employees who came from the rehab unit at YNHH's Saint Raphael Campus. Other nurses and therapists came from Bridgeport Hospital's former inpatient rehabilitation unit, which merged with the YNHH unit. Rehabilitation and Wellness Center staff have found that blending employees from different hospitals has yielded more advantages than challenges, said Amy Mooney, lead physical therapist, who came from Bridgeport.

"We've had to be open-minded and flexible, and not just do things the way we always did them before," she said. "It's been a great opportunity to learn from each other, re-evaluate our approaches and really bring best practices to our work."

For more information about the Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, call 203-301-6261 or visit the web page