My right leg has been really painful, so yesterday I got a physical therapy referral from my family doctor.
The letter said that I'd been referred to Orthopedic Physical Therapy at 755 Mission Street. I'd never heard of that name, and I couldn't remember any physical therapy clinic near that address.
All became clear when I called the phone number on the referral. I'd been referred to the Salem Health Rehabilitation Center that was constructed a few years ago.
Amazingly, I was offered an appointment with Michael that very afternoon. (Must have been a cancellation.)
"Do you know where we are?" the appointment person asked. "Not really," I told her. "We're on the site of the old Blind School, next to the adaptive playground."
Ah, I thought, this is the Salem Health facility that I'd criticized so vociferously in some 2014 blog posts such as: "Save ancient trees and Howard Hall from Salem Hospital's greed" and "Salem Hospital construction likely kills majestic White Oak."
Representatives of the blind community have said that five times their attempts to negotiate a compromise with Salem Hospital over Howard Hall were rejected. Likewise, professional architectural renderings that show it is possible to save most of the ancient trees on the property, rather than cut them down for a barren parking lot, have been rejected out of hand by the hospital.
If you care about preserving trees and historic buildings, take a few minutes to learn about what will be lost if Salem Hospital gets its greedy way.
...It is evident in the top photo that construction activity was taking place all around the White Oak.
This tree was several hundred years old. My wife and I have a similarly-sized White Oak near our house that is about 250 years old, according to an arborist from Elwood's Tree Service (we use Elwood's for tree work on our ten natural rural acres).
The tree that developed the split lived for centuries through countless wind storms, ice storms, heavy rains, and drought. Yet Salem Hospital apparently wants us to believe that soon after heavy construction equipment worked around the tree for weeks on end, the split just coincidentally happened.
I'm still bothered by how Salem Health handled the demolition of the Blind School and the unnecessary destruction of many old, beautiful, large trees to make room for a parking lot.
But I was impressed by how attractive the Rehabilitation Center is, both inside and out.
So a lot of good has arisen from Salem Health's disturbing construction activity. That's the way of the world. Rarely is an issue completely good or bad, positive or negative, productive or destructive.
And I've got to say that with my sore leg, it was nice to be able to park close to the Rehabilitation Center rather than having to deal with Salem Health's parking garages. I also liked seeing children enjoying themselves in the adaptive playground.
Michael Bragiel, the physical therapist I saw on such short notice, was a delight.
Personable, energetic, humorous, knowledgeable, and... young. I told him that people his age can explain that their leg pain was caused by a skiing accident, or whatever, whereas often people my age (71) have little or no clue about why their leg is acting up.
(I have my guesses, notably that my habit of using my laptop while sitting on a non-ergonomic bar stool at our kitchen counter finally caught up to me, leg-pain-wise.)
After Michael checked out the strength of my legs and did some prodding and poking of my body, he concluded that I could continue exercising so long as that didn't make the leg pain worse. I only was given one nerve stretching exercise to do a couple of times a day.
Thus I came away grateful that the Salem Rehabilitation Center exists, and that it is filled with such caring, competent staff.
I just wish Salem Health had been more responsive to the concerns of the blind community about what Howard Hall meant to them, along with modifying its plans for the Rehab Center parking lot so many or most of the existing large trees could have been saved, especially the majestic White Oak.