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Patients reunite to praise quality care

Date: 9/28/2010

Sept. 29, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Ted Hellstein of Westfield entered Bronson Rehabilitation Unit at Noble Hospital unable to walk and on a feeding tube. Today, he's mobile and eating solid food thanks the medical professionals there.

Hellstein and his wife of 58 years, Marge, joined more than 50 other current and former patients to celebrate their renewed health on hospital grounds for the Bronson Unit Alumni Picnic on Sept. 22.

"The second day I was here, they got me to walk three steps. You'd think it was New Year's," Ted Hellstein recalled of his time on the unit.

"It was like a miracle," Marge Hellstein added.

Ted Hellstein recalled, as he tried to hold back tears, that he'd spent 13 months on a feeding tube and three weeks in the intensive care unit in a Worcester hospital prior to being transferred to the Bronson Rehabilitation Unit.

The unit specializes in care for patients suffering from brain injury, bodily wounds, multi-trauma, stroke, pulmonary complications, hip fracture or amputation as well as pain management and treatment for medically complex patients.

"They've got terrific [medical professionals] here. I had a good time," Ted Hellstein said, noting his first request for real food was a plate of his wife's spaghetti.

Jim Popowich of Southwick, another former patient of the unit, echoed Ted Hellstein's sentiments.

"I was here just last week," he explained. "I've been [admitted] to the unit before. I know the nurses and they know me. It's like a family ... I receive very good care."

Corinne Meares and her husband Jack of Southwick agreed with Popowich, adding that they attend the picnic each year to visit with the unit's staff and to thank them, once again, for their efforts to heal them.

"We've spent so much time with them, it's like an extended family picnic to see people every year and the progress they've made," Cathy Bastible, director of the Bronson Rehabilitation Unit, said of the gathering.

The small, 15-bed unit provides a "personal touch" to the quality care patients receive, she added. "They're our neighbors, coworkers and family members," Bastible said.

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