Nonprofit reopens pediatric therapy program
By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- A 60-year-old nonprofit organization in Vero Beach is going back to their roots by re-opening a children's therapy clinic.
Sunshine Kids, a program of Sunshine Physical Therapy Clinic, is a nonprofit outpatient pediatric rehabilitation clinic and is now open to the public.
With three dedicated pediatric therapists, the clinic offers rehabilitative physical, occupational and speech therapy for children with injuries, congenital abnormalities, neuromuscular conditions, orthopedic defects and developmental delays, a brochure said.
Speech and occupational therapy are coming soon, as are handwriting and music therapy.
Michele Klager, vice president of the board for Sunshine Physical Therapy Clinic said she is thrilled to open the pediatric clinic once again, because the need in the community is so great, and pediatric treatment and rehabilitation is how the clinic first began 60 years ago.
Sunshine Physical Therapy Clinic is the only nonprofit physical therapy clinic in Indian River County, and since Health South closed its rehab center last year, it is now one of two clinics offering pediatric services in the county, Ms. Klager said.
Parents in the community were finding scheduling an appointment for their child was very difficult, with waiting lists of up to 2 years, said Pam Grant, a member of the Sunshine Physical Therapy Clinic board.
"When people have to wait, they end up not going," Ms. Grant said.
A $50,000 donation from Steve and Rose Sadlek of Vero Beach helped jumpstart the local program back again and other grant funding is currently being pursued to add more therapy options for parents, she said.
In 1953, the Sunshine Center, as it was then called, was started to help treat children with polio and other children with special needs. Over the years, polio was eradicated, the public school system took on a larger role in special needs children's' needs and adult physical therapy became the primary focus of the clinic, a press release said.
A new challenge has arisen in the past few years, the care of children with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays and neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and orthopedic conditions like scoliosis, a press release said.
The nonprofit will be partnering with Florida Institute of Technology and The Scott Center for Autism Treatment to bring assessment treatment services for children diagnosed with autism and severe behavior issues, Ms. Klager said.
This will be the first time parents in the county will have the opportunity to have assessments and help available for their children so close to home, she said.
The Scott Center evaluations will be billed separately from Sunshine Kids. Sunshine Kids will accept Medicaid, Tri-Care, First Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield from new patients.
Grant opportunities will be available for patients who are unable to pay, Ms. Klagel said.
"Bottom line is no child will ever be turned away," Ms. Grant said.
A ribbon cutting with the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 5 p.m.
Sunshine Physical Therapy Clinic is located at 1705 17th Ave., Vero Beach. For more information, call (772) 562-6877 or visit www.sunshineptc.org.