It’s a nice, warm June day. I sit near the windows in the peaceful solarium at Mary Free Bed, full of natural light and plants, and look over the rooftop terrace where patients enjoy the fresh air under colorful umbrellas.
As I visit with marketing team member Tricia Boot, she tells me how Mary Free Bed is the only free-standing rehabilitation hospital in West Michigan. Other hospitals have rehab units that are a part of the hospital itself, which is different. Because Mary Free Bed is free-standing, it allows them to offer more specialized care in areas like spinal cord and traumatic injury.
From the moment I enter the hospital, I notice color and light. At the reception desk, the front panel glows cheerfully.
When I look up, I see glass art lighting the entryway ceiling. It’s one of twelve pieces of blown-glass art that’s featured throughout the hospital created by Jerry Catania from Benton Harbor, Michigan. Jerry was a student of the famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly.
On one side there is a waiting room filled with colorful artwork and toys for kids. The television is on in the background like a family room at home. Not like a typical waiting area, it’s comfortable with soft lighting.
I notice how the colors of the waiting room, and the glass artwork are incorporated in the background of the HDTV screen. Red, orange and yellow – like a sunrise.
It’s like a brand new day – full of hope. And that’s what Mary Free Bed is all about – restoring hope and freedom.
For 125 years, Mary Free Bed has been transforming lives.
It started when a small group of Grand Rapids women saw the need for medical care for patients with limited financial resources, so they started a fundraising campaign for a free bed in a local hospital. They asked for contributions from everyone named Mary, and even from friends or relatives with the name.
They raised money for a free bed, which was known as the Mary Free Bed. The website explains, “As the fund – and community need – grew, other women joined the group. It became incorporated in 1911 as the Mary Free Bed Guild of Grand Rapids.”
In the 1930s, the hospital continued to expand. The guild opened a 12-bed convalescent unit just for children to rehab from polio and other conditions. They also opened the Mary Free Bed Brace Shop, a service that made customized braces, orthotics and supports.
Fast forward to the present.
A recent $66.4 million expansion and renovation project has grown the number of inpatient beds to 167, giving them the ability to help more patients.
As I walk through the hospital with Tricia, I see patients working with their rehab therapists. Standing. Walking. Balancing. Healing. Taking their first steps.
Tricia shows me a patient room with a floor to ceiling image of trees. Down another hall I see a patient working with a therapist on a special mat that looks like a trampoline. The patient is a young man in his late 20s or 30s – a hipster with a beard and wearing a funky T-shirt. He smiles as he talks.
In big, red letters on the wall behind him, I see the word, “Strength.”
Carrie Brown is the communications director at eVideon who recently toured the hospital with Mary Free Bed Web Specialist, Tricia Boot. eVideon provides hospitals like Mary Free Bed with interactive patient care solutions that engage, educate and entertain patients and visitors, while streamlining workflows for staff. Learn more at www.evideon.com.