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OMC officials think twice about closing hydrotherapy pool

 

After hearing multiple patients speak against the closure of Olympic Medical Center’s physical therapy pool during the board of commissioner’s July 16 meeting, OMC’s executive director and board commissioners are rethinking the closure.

“We’re seriously looking at options and considering donations,” said Eric Lewis, chief executive director of Olympic Medical Center.

A new pool liner, costing about $50,000 is needed in order to keep the 14-foot-by-10-foot hydrotherapy pool operational, Lewis said. The liner for the pool is expensive because of the pool’s sophisticated features, like the underwater treadmill.

The treadmill’s warmer water temperatures and the ramp that allows water-safe wheelchairs in the pool are the amenities that cause the pool to be expensive and they also make the pool a unique and beneficial service, users say.

Ten Sequim residents of 40 active patients utilize the hydrotherapy pool, Bobby Beeman, Olympic Medical Center’s communication manager, said. The number of active patients does vary but equates to roughly 100-plus one-on-one visits per month, she said.

With more than 80 percent of the center’s patients on Medicare, Medicaid or other government insurance policies, the center must try to balance the cost and variety of their services with lower governmental reimbursement rates, Lewis said.

“We don’t need to make any money (from the hydrotherapy pool service), but historically we’re losing about $6,000 per month,” Lewis said. “I think there are ways to make that better, and the patients have provided good input.”

Disappointed patient

Cecilia Kellogg-Kilmer, a Sequim resident and hydrotherapy patient at the Olympic Medical Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation clinic, said she considers the hydrotherapy service important.

“For some people, it’s a very disappointing closure,” Kellogg-Kilmer said.

 

She has been a hydrotherapy patient at Olympic Medical Center since this past fall because of spinal detrition from an inoperable form of arthritis. Before

hydrotherapy, Kellogg-Kilmer said, she couldn’t use her legs to walk, but has since been able to strengthen her leg muscles and walk again.

 

“I can walk a mile around my neighborhood now,” Kellogg-Kilmer said. “The buoyancy of the water holds up your body and helps you to bypass the impacts of gravity.”

If Olympic Medical Center officials close the hydrotherapy pool, the closest pool designed for physical therapy is in Kitsap County.

Although the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center and William Shore Memorial Pool are nearby geographically, they don’t have the unique features needed for hydrotherapy, Kellogg-Kilmer said.

Originally the hydrotherapy pool was anticipated to close in September, but Olympic Medical Center officials will now be taking a few more months to explore additional funding options, Lewis said.

For information about donations to Olympic Medical Center’s physical therapy pool, call the Olympic Medical Center Foundation at 417-7144.

 

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