October is National Physical Therapy Month and a chance to highlight our Mercy Health — Willard Rehabilitation and Wellness Center team members for their dedicated work in the community. Our physical therapists and physical therapy assistants play key roles in helping people find relief from pain, improve mobility and overall functional ability while also helping them live healthier, more physically able lives.
Dalton Wise, a physical therapy assistant (pictured above, far right), helps physical therapists carry out patients’ plans of care while also helping patients accomplish their goals. He chose to be a PTA because he enjoys helping people overcome obstacles in their life, such as an injury or surgery. With a specialty in athletes, Dalton loves seeing them start to feel better and get back to doing what they enjoy the most.
“My interest in sports and rehabbing injuries is why I preferred the outpatient physical therapy setting. This way I can help treat athletes to return to their sport,” Dalton shares. “The most rewarding aspect of working with athletes is seeing them work their butt off in rehab and once rehab is over, seeing their name in the area newspaper back competing in their sport.”
Tammi Heefner (pictured above, second from right) has been a physical therapy assistant with our ministry for 23 years. She became a PTA because she knew that she wanted to help people and be in the health care field.
“I work primarily in the hospital setting with acute and subacute patients,” Tammi says. “I really enjoy working in the hospital setting. I found my niche working with these patients and being a part of the swing bed program. It is so rewarding to see a patient get to go home and know that I helped make that happen. I really enjoy working at Mercy Health. The friendships I have made here are friendships that will last a very long time.”
Melissa Shade, a physical therapist (pictured above, second from left), has always enjoyed helping others. She also participated in high school sports, so physical therapy seemed like a good fit for her.
“Now that I’m in this field of work, I realize there is so much more to physical therapy than sports injuries. There is such a wide variety of treatment and specialty areas available,” Melissa says.
Melissa adds that their physical therapy department is like a family. She feels their team has created an atmosphere where patients feel comfortable and like they are family, too. Melissa also finds it very satisfying to help patients return to what they enjoy and help them achieve their goals. She works primarily with orthopedic injuries and joint surgeries.
“We also have the opportunity to work with patients one-on-one, so you get a chance to know the whole person,” Melissa says.
She adds, “the advantage of working in a small rural hospital is that I get to treat many other diagnoses including stroke, balance deficits, Parkinson’s and generalized weakness, to name a few. I also specialize in the treatment of vertigo. This is very rewarding to improve someone’s dizziness and balance issues, as it can be such a debilitating condition.”
And finally, Laura Lee Felter (pictured above, far left) is a physical therapist with our ministry. She shares that her earliest memories are of helping her mother take care of her siblings.
“When I turned 11 years old, I started babysitting for some neighbor children,” Laura says. “Caring for children gave me an inner sense of usefulness and pleasure. After I was in high school, I got involved in distance running through my school’s cross country and track teams. In my goal to become a faster runner, I began weightlifting. My interest in fitness and health grew from those early experiences. When I found out I could combine my interest in fitness with my passion of taking caring of others into one career as a physical therapist, I was beyond excited.”
Laura adds that Mercy Health has been a wonderful place to work, as evidenced by her 23 years of employment. Through our ministry, Laura has been able to work at Willard City Schools to provide physical therapy services to children in need.
“I have also completed further education through continuing education classes as well as reading research papers to develop skills for working with children and people of all ages with genetic disabilities,” Laura says. “Helping people overcome challenges and succeed in life is very energizing to me; I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be than right here at Mercy Health.”
Learn about the rehabilitation and physical therapy services we offer at Mercy Health.