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The wait it over! More than two years after breaking ground, the new Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital west addition is ready for patients. Patients will move into the new building on Sunday, March 29 with rehabilitation starting on Monday, March 30. The new building offers amazing amenities and opportunities for both patients and staff alike.

West Addition statistics

  • Total project cost $66.4 million
  • Applying for LEED certification of entire project
  • Expansion and renovation will generate more than 500 onsite construction jobs
  • An additional 3,000 patients will be served annually
  • At least 350 new positions will be created onsite in skilled nursing, therapy, information technology and other areas

New building

  • $42 million to construct and equipment
  • Occupancy will be mid-late March
  • 167 inpatient beds
  • 119 acute level
  • 48 sub-acute


  • $24.4 million
  • Touches every area of campus
  • Completion expected in Spring 2017

 Goals for building

  • Create healing environment for patients, families and staff
  • Elevate patient outcomes to even higher levels
  • Make services available to greater number of patients

 Building is a tool to improve patient outcomes

  • Two types of high-tech ceiling-mounted lifts for patients who are learning to walk again; research shows if patients don’t worry about falling, they’ll work harder and be more successful
  • Decentralized nursing and therapy so nurses and therapists will be able to spend more time with patients
  • Multiple therapy gyms on every floor; some are specialized such as the low-stimulation gym for brain injury patients
  • Private rooms for more silent nights and better sleep, which is vital for recovery
  • Experts came from as far away as Maine and Florida to install specialty rehabilitation equipment

New hospital statistics

  • Six stories
  • 190,000 square feet of occupied space
  • 80,000 square feet of parking
  • Spans 360 feet from north to south (longer than an NFL field)
  • Experts came from as far away as Maine and Florida to install specialty rehabilitation equipment
  • Building materials include: 96 miles of steel bars …
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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, led by the Brain Injury Association of America. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Not Alone.” The public awareness efforts aim to not only educate folks about traumatic brain injury (including concussion) but to take the stigma out of these often-life-changing injuries.

Another goal is to help survivors and their families learn about and connect with the many resources available to them after brain injury, from specialized medical services to support groups and counseling.

In recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month — and especially Brain Injury Awareness Day on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 — we wanted to share a few quick facts about traumatic brain injury in the United States:

Brain Injury Awareness Month 2015 - Mary Free Bed 4









Brain Injury Awareness Month 2015 - Mary Free Bed 2











Brain Injury Awareness Month 2015 - Mary Free Bed 3











Brain Injury Awareness Month 2015 - Mary Free Bed

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From The Grand Rapids Press – Sunday, March 8, 2015
CLICK the newspaper pages to see larger version and open in new window.


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Dr. Chris VandenBerg, medical director of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital’s Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program, will be a panelist at Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids (2121 Celebration Dr. NE) for a free community screening of the new Ken Burns documentary, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.”

The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday, March 16. You may reserve a seat or learn more here. The film also will be screened in Muskegon and Portage.

The documentary series airs nationwide on March 30, 31 and April 1 from 9-11 p.m. on WGVU. Along with the series, WGVU has put together a local project in support of cancer patients and their loved ones. “Managing the Journey: Celebrating Life & Hope” includes our Betty Bloomer Ford Cancer Rehabilitation Program along with the Van Andel Institute, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, the American Cancer Society and others.

The undertaking is a comprehensive look at all aspects of the disease – including research, treatment, rehabilitation and emotional support.

Listen to Dr. VandenBerg talk more about cancer rehabilitation during an October 2014 appearance on WGVU. Watch a trailer for “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” below.

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Guest Blog by Jamie Spore, Mary Free Bed alumni

JS_SpinaBifida_HSHello. My name is Jamie Spore and I have been an L2-L3 paraplegic since birth. Thirty-three years ago, I was born with the spinal cord defect called spina bifida. Since then, a wheelchair has been my main mode of transportation.

I did use full leg braces and a walker for a few hours each day until I was 12 or 13 years old. That’s when I stopped using the braces and walker altogether because they were heavy and cumbersome. I continued to have weekly physical therapy sessions and attended the annual comprehensive spina bifida clinic at Mary Free Bed until I aged out it. After that, I did range of motion exercises and therapy on my legs, but I didn’t use them and I didn’t think much about it, because I can’t feel them.

I have always believed that life is too short for regrets. But if I have one regret, it was giving up the use of my legs.

Fast forward several years: In June of 2011, I acquired a very large, stage 3 pressure ulcer on my sacrum and ischium. After my aunt had been diagnosed with terminal cancer six months earlier, I decided to participate in a Relay for Life, which had me wheeling around the local high school track for 24 hours straight. This extended period of time in my wheelchair resulted in that large, deep, ugly pressure sore.

I spent the next 23-plus months on bed rest to heal that sore. Due to the extensive damage to my skin and underlying tissues, I have spent more than 31 months on bed rest over the past 3.5 years.

In the brief periods when I have not been …

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Pain Center 3

Living Beyond Your Pain – A 6-week course to help ease your pain and improve your function

Who: For people with chronic pain, headaches and fibromyalgia who want to improve their pain management and quality of life.

What: Pain is like quicksand. The more you fight your pain, the more of your life is taken away. This class will teach you the skills you need to get out of the quicksand you are caught in and back into living the life you want to live.

Learn to accept the things you cannot change, choose how you want to live, and take the steps necessary to get where you want to go.

The course outline:
Week 1: What pain is and why controlling it is not the answer
Week 2: What do you value?
Week 3: Your thoughts are not what they say they are
Week 4: Mindfulness: The answer when your mind isn’t
Week 5: Are you willing?
Week 6: Committed action (and what’s holding you back?)

Participants will receive a copy of the Living Beyond Your Pain workbook by J. Dahl & T. Lundgren upon which this class is based.

Where: Classes are held at Cathedral Square Center at 360 Division Ave. S. Free parking available next to the building.

When: Wednesday April 15, 2015 3:30 – 5:30 *note extended class time
Wednesday April 23, 2015 3:30 – 5:00
Tuesday April 28, 2015 3:30 – 5:00 *note different day
Wednesday May 06, 2015 3:30 – 5:00
Wednesday May 13, 2015 3:30 – 5:00
Wednesday May 20, 2015 3:30 – 5:30 *note extended class time

Registration: Call The Pain Center at 616-840-8070
$395 (insurance not accepted; covers entire class and workbook)

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From The Grand Rapids Press – Sunday, February 8, 2015
CLICK the newspaper page to view larger version in a new window.

GRPress new Mary Free Bed

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From The Grand Rapids Press – Sunday, January 11, 2015
CLICK the newspaper pages to see larger version and open in new window.

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