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Mayo showcases new therapy room

ABOVE: The new pediatric rehabilitation therapy room at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. The space was available for viewing during an open house on Wednesday evening.

FAIRMONT– Mayor Clinic Health System in Fairmont debuted its new pediatric rehabilitation therapy room in an open house on Wednesday. The space will allow for occupational, physical and speech therapists to bring in their patients and work on different skills.

Laura Olsen, a physical therapy assistant and Karyn Riewe, an occupational therapist, both have a mixed practice but work mainly with pediatrics at Mayo in Fairmont.

As for how the pediatric rehabilitation space came to be, Riewe said that it used to be the old radiology department and most recently had been filled with cubicles. However, with changes in healthcare post-Covid, a lot of people are now able to work from home and the space had been sitting empty.

“We saw the opportunity to turn it into a really meaningful space for our pediatric patients,” Riewe said.

It took about four months to remodel the space. All of the cubicles were removed, new flooring and lighting were added, as well as a new room, which will provide a quiet space for children who need that in order to participate in activities.

“Sometimes it’s really overwhelming being in a bright, loud and busy therapy space, so we have the ability to go into a quiet space as well,” Riewe said.

What was once a break room has been remodeled into a kitchen so that feeding therapy can be worked on and messy play can be done in.

“We can get out the shaving cream and play-doh and moon sand,” said Riewe.

The new rehabilitation therapy room also boasts features like swings, slides, stairs, a ball pit and space for activities like scooter races. There’s a dedicated area for children to draw on a white board and a mirror on the wall so that gait and balance activities can be done.

A wide age range of children with different abilities will use the space. Most pediatric patients range from three months through teenagers who may have developmental disabilities.

“We’re all in that space, it’s just a matter of how we use that space,” said Riewe.

“The goal of all of the therapies is to bring these kids to or as close to their peers’ ability. Some of them might always be a little bit delayed, but we’re trying to get them as independent as possible or to a point where they can participate with other four-year-old at school and things like that,” said Olsen.

Riewe added that they want every child to be able to live a sensory-rich and meaningful life but that some may need more help communicating which is where speech therapy is helpful and some may need more help navigating the playground through physical therapy and others might need to be able to tie their shoes or brush their teeth, which is where occupational therapy comes in.

“It’s been a really big blessing to have the ability for us to see kids and create novel challenges for them in this space that’s fun and inviting. It’s not sitting down and doing exercises– it’s play. We can do a lot of work through play,” said Riewe

Prior to the new space being created, the various therapists would do work with their patients either in their offices or in a small gym that was dedicated to pediatric therapy. However, only one child at a time was allowed to be in the space at once.

“Now we can see two or three kids in the large gym and we can have multiple activities going on. It’s really effective to have multiple kids in the gym at the same time,” Olsen said

She added that it’s also beneficial for children to learn social skills with other kids their same age and to recognize that every kid is a little different.

Riewe pointed out that the new space is definitely an investment in the youth in the community.

“For us in a rural area, this is so crucial and beneficial to our population. The next closest place to get pediatric therapy is Mankato or people need to go down into Iowa or to Sioux Falls. It’s really important that we are able to provide the best experience that we can for our patients,” she said.

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