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St. Luke’s adds dose of real life to rehab

New therapy center will help patients master everyday tasks

St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute is building a $1 million therapy center designed to help recovering stroke patients and others ease back into everyday life.

It will feature an indoor bus stop complete with a donated bus from the Spokane Transit Authority. The bus will be cut up and placed within the therapy center to help patients gain confidence in boarding public transportation and using safety equipment such as wheelchair lifts and safety belts.

Other sections will include mock grocery stores, cafés, and part of an airplane fuselage and seat to help patients gain confidence in boarding aircraft.

Many rehabilitation patients struggle with even simple tasks, including crossing a street, stepping off of a curb, shopping and other everyday routines.

Helping rehab patients practice these tasks within the hospital should help them succeed once discharged, said St. Luke’s administrator Chuck Gersdorf.

The new center will use 2,200 square feet on the St. Luke’s campus.

It’s the largest capital construction project at the stand-alone rehabilitation hospital in 38 years, Gersdorf said.

The therapy area will be set against the backdrop of Spokane scenes to help simulate real life. It was designed by Nystrom, Olson, Collins Inc.

Construction will begin in June and completion is expected in October, said Tom Fritz, chief executive of Inland Northwest Health Services, which operates St. Luke’s.