At Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital Bradford, patients work to recover what’s been lost due to a medical/traumatic event, such as functional mobility after a bad break, learning to communicate after a stroke, or gaining endurance to dress and bathe upon being weaned from a ventilator. Whatever cognitive or physical ability that’s lost, Bradford’s Rehabilitation Services staff take pride in their high standards of practice, evidence-based care, and exceptional results in recovering independence for these tenacious patients.
Or, more simply put by Laurie Lemire as she laughs: “Bradford’s just better.”
Laurie has been a part of the Whittier Health Network since 1997. She started as a brand-new graduate of occupational therapy (OT) school, her first “real job,” as she puts it. Since then, Laurie became a pediatric OT specialist as well as an outpatient occupational therapy clinical specialist. Promoted to Director of Rehabilitation in 2006, Laurie’s continuously striving to advance as a clinician while continually meeting and treating all aspects of inpatient and outpatient care.
Rehabilitation services at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital Bradford are robust: managing physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and Joint Commission Specialty Certified Stroke and Pulmonary Programs. In addition, Bradford is unique in offering an outpatient maintenance program for people who have “graduated” from skilled intervention and are nervous about exercising alone. Patients can progress to exercise in the outpatient gym independently as therapists keep an eye on them and coach them along the way to promote their continued health and improvement of function.
“We take a truly holistic approach when it comes to caring for a patient, looking at them physically, emotionally, and mentally,” Laurie explains. “Often, it takes baby steps to get people mobilized, especially if they’ve been bedridden; progress can be having the patient sit at the edge of the bed and actively use and expand their lungs to work on their strength. I’ve always felt, as a therapist, we should provide patients with the care and the time they need to get well/recover. While abiding by insurance guidelines, some patients must move along sooner than I’d like, but that’s when we all work together as a team to come up with a good plan to maximize their abilities.”
As a child, Laurie dreamed of being an elementary school teacher, but when she reached high school, she fell in love with anatomy and physiology. When she applied to the University of New Hampshire, she was hoping to focus on elementary education in addition to physical therapy. Upon learning there was no PT program available at UNH, she enrolled in Occupational Therapy instead. Today, Laurie’s rehabilitation team employs 75 professionals, including support staff, assistants, and clinicians. In particular, the inpatient and outpatient programs have been growing again since COVID-19 restrictions have started to ease.
What is Laurie looking for in the new rehabilitation services therapists she’s hiring?
“Someone willing to take direction, who’s willing to learn, and who’s very open to working with people. You’re going to have patient contact, so we are always looking for people who are easily approachable, kind, and open. In return, we’re offering an amazing opportunity for folks to get a lot of exposure to patients at all different levels of abilities and needs.”