UPMC Mercy park offers respite, hope for people adjusting to disabilities
When UPMC Mercy hospital officials tapped Marshall Lee Tempest to help develop a place where people learning to live with physical disabilities can practice using a wheelchair or other mobility device, he knew all too well the difficulties of maneuvering through the “real world.”
“Hospitals are designed to make it easy for people (with physical disabilities) to get around,” said Tempest, 40, of Monroeville, who lost the use of his legs in a motor vehicle accident when he was 18. “But it can be a real challenge to their confidence when they get home and want to go to the grocery store or some other place and realize it is not like going down a hospital corridor.”
On Thursday morning, Mercy officials unveiled a 15,000-square-foot Recovery and Rehabilitation Park on the hospital's front lawn at the corner of Locust and Marion streets. The Walmart Foundation provided a $200,000 grant to build the park.
In addition to adding garden features such as a pergola, benches, decorative field stones, lush plants and colorful flowers to Uptown's dense urban landscape, the park provides practice space for patients in Mercy's 79-bed Rehabilitation Institute.
Incorporated into the park are curbs of various heights; sections of walkway finished with uneven surfaces such as gravel, Belgian block and mulch; and staircases and ramps of various lengths and heights.
“Patients can have a difficult time if they've only practiced walking or using a wheelchair on flat or smooth surfaces,” said Dr. Michael Boninger, director of the Rehabilitation Institute.
“Using a wheelchair in a hospital corridor doesn't teach you how to get into your house,” he said. “We developed the park because we know that we need to train people for higher-level skills.”
The “practice” features built into the park were developed by the institute's research team, of which Tempest is a member.
“This will be a great place to teach people about what it's going to be like when they leave the hospital,” said Tempest, who serves on a peer support group for the institute's patients.
Beyond admiring “such a gorgeous park,” Rosanne Torisky of Beechview said she is looking forward to using the park to learn how to navigate her motorized wheelchair better.
“Sometimes when I'm out, I'll run into something and just wonder how am I going to get through this?” said Torisky, 84, who cannot walk and is at the institute learning to adjust to a new knee brace. “It's great that there's a place to help learn how to get around a little bit better.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- It’s business, but not as usual in Pittsburgh
- Plum school officials ignoring help, advocacy group’s chief says
- Body found on North Side
- Burgess’ rivals for Pittsburgh council nomination owe money to government
- Million-dollar charitable effort aims to help Homewood kids
- Garfield business reaches out to raise $90K for fixes
- Police intercept drug courier returning to Western Pennsylvania with 316 bricks of heroin
- House floating along rivers will be new South Side Marina office
- Trib recognition program celebrates young leaders in south, west area
- Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh’s bike share program, won’t require helmets
- Comcast covers Western Pa. with volunteers