Giralda Farms, former estate of the late philanthropist Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, will embark on a new mission in coming weeks.
Victims of strokes, neurological diseases and traumatic injuries will start rebuilding their lives at the Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, a $24 million facility that opened its doors Tuesday on Giralda’s sprawling, meticulously groomed grounds in Madison.
“Every little detail, every piece of the entire design has a purpose designed for rehab,” said Therapy Director Vanessa Sembrat, after a ribbon-cutting by officials from the Morristown-based Atlantic Health System and partners from Kindred Healthcare Inc. of Kentucky.
The two-story, 38-bed center will replace the century-old Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute that straddles the border of Morristown and Morris Township on Mount Kemble Avenue.
Atlantic Health has contracted to sell that steeply sloped property to Toll Brothers Commercial for redevelopment. Sources tell MorristownGreen.com the builder is re-thinking the project after Morristown officials objected last year to the scale and traffic implications of a proposed 115-unit housing development on the Township side.
In-patient rehab services will transition from Morristown to Madison when the new center secures accreditation, a process that could be completed next month, said Atlantic Health spokesman Rob Seman. Outpatient services at Mount Kemble are being relocated elsewhere, Seman said.
Completed in just over a year, the 46,000-square-foot rehab facility at Giralda will blend modern technology with old-fashioned attention to patient care and privacy, according to Trish O’Keefe, president of Morristown Memorial Hospital.
There is a ski simulator to improve balance, a “Bionik InMotion” arm to regain movement, and a $170,000 motorized exoskeleton to help paralyzed patients walk.
“It means everything,” said Stephen Tinnin, 27, demonstrating the Ekso Bionics system, a military technology spinoff that freed him from a wheelchair after a hit-and-run driver injured him five years ago in Detroit.
A smart car is available to help patients re-learn how to enter and exit vehicles. A courtyard includes a variety of surfaces to navigate, and a putting green for motivation. Patients can spend a night in a special suite that simulates a home environment, to practice returning to normal life.
All patient rooms are private, with spacious bathrooms and ample space to accommodate family members as they learn how to help their loved one, Sembrat said.
Typical stays will be about two weeks, she said, for patients who can benefit from intensive physical therapy. The gym is designed for quiet sessions and minimal distractions for patients struggling with brain injuries.
Russ Bailey, chief operating officer for Louisville-based Kindred, which will operate the Madison center, presented Atlantic Health CEO Brian Gragnolati with a Louisville Slugger baseball bat during Tuesday’s festivities.
Tours were given for dignitaries including state Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27th Dist.) and Kellie Doucette of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill’s office. Former New York Jets player Wayne Chrebet posed for photos with Ralph Barone, a retired teacher who gave a testimonial for the Morristown rehab facility.
“It was phenomenal,” said the 68-year-old Whippany resident, who credited Atlantic Health with preparing him to walk, unassisted, at his son’s wedding in May, just weeks after spinal surgery.
The Mount Kemble site was home to All Souls Hospital in 1892. The present structure was erected after a fire in 1918. It has served more than a million patients since becoming a rehab center 39 years ago, said O’Keefe, the Morristown Memorial Hospital president.
She said the new Atlantic Rehab Institute “will provide a patient-focused rehabilitation dedicated to the treatment and recovery” of individuals suffering from debilitating injuries and illnesses.
Geraldine Dodge’s legacy, the Dodge Foundation, always has embraced “a healing culture,” added the former nurse, “and that’s what you will find in this beautiful new facility.”
Atlantic Health envisions a campus at Giralda Farms, where it has purchased 40 acres. Future plans have yet to be announced.