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Navigating New Terrain:  Gaylord Hospital Unveils Outdoor Rehabilitation Courtyard

Navigating New Terrain: Gaylord Hospital Unveils Outdoor Rehabilitation Courtyard

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2023

WALLINGFORD, CONNECTICUT, September 27, 2023 – Patients recovering from life-altering illnesses and injuries will have the opportunity to gain essential mobility skills needed to be­­ independent after discharge in Gaylord Hospital’s new Rutledge Family Garden, a transformative and multi-functional outdoor rehabilitation courtyard.

The innovative space was made possible with a lead grant from Greenwich-based Rutledge Family Foundation and additional funding from The Timken Foundation of Canton.  

Spanning 5,700 square feet, the bi-level courtyard was designed by The Project Studio for Landscape Architect and Spatial Studies, Towers/Golde Landscape Architects and Site Planners, CAMA, and Redniss & Mead Civil Engineers with input from Gaylord therapy staff to ensure that construction met the functional and therapeutic needs of its unique patient population.

Pete Grevelding, PT, MSPT, Vice President of Clinical Operations and Executive Director of the Milne Institute for Healthcare Innovation, expressed his enthusiasm for the Rutledge Family Garden, explaining that the new space will play a vital role in preparing patients for community reintegration.

“For many patients, tasks like walking on uneven surfaces, navigating stairs, or propelling a wheelchair up a ramp can be incredibly challenging. Replicating these real-world elements and allowing patients to safely practice these skills with our clinical team helps prepare our patients for discharge and a successful return to the activities they love.”

Located with direct access to Gaylord’s inpatient rehabilitation gym, the Rutledge Family Garden features an ADA-grade ramp for patients mastering inclines and declines with canes, walkers, prosthetic limbs, and wheelchairs. Sets of stairs and curbs of different heights mimic the variability of obstacles patients will encounter in the community. Railings are incorporated for therapeutic exercises, and uneven surface terrains throughout the courtyard help patients practice mobility and balance.

“We see this area as an extension of the hospital’s existing treatment area where physical, occupational, speech, recreation, music, and respiratory therapies, wellness programs such as Reiki and mindfulness, and more can take place,” Grevelding said.

President and CEO Sonja LaBarbera said that the Rutledge Family Garden joins the other courtyards, gardens, and restorative settings already in use for “ambulation, relaxation, and socialization” throughout Gaylord Hospital’s 400-acre campus. LaBarbera emphasized the benefits of integrating nature into the rehabilitative process, a concept she calls "therapy everywhere."

“Industry research and experience tells us that bringing nature into a patient’s plan of care positively impacts their healing, mental health, and relaxation.”

"The Rutledge Family Garden aligns perfectly with our innovative culture and holistic, patient-centered approach by enhancing our patients’ experiences and contributing to their quality of life beyond their hospital stay.”

About Gaylord Specialty Healthcare:
Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is a rehabilitation-focused, nonprofit health system headquartered in Wallingford, Connecticut, that provides inpatient and outpatient care for people at every point in their journey from illness or injury to maximum recovery.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is anchored by Gaylord Hospital, a long-term acute care hospital, and includes Gaylord Outpatient Services and Gaylord Physical Therapy for patients who require diagnosis and treatment. Gaylord’s Milne Institute for Healthcare Innovation is a hub for accelerating world-class rehabilitative research, technology development and innovation to improve the quality of life and function of people around the world. Together, these entities deliver a complete continuum of rehabilitative care driven by clinical experience, innovation and human compassion. Learn more at




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