Norton Community Hospital unveils therapeutic courtyard for rehab patients


Team members from the Norton
Community Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit
show off the new therapeutic garden and the bench
placed in memory of Dr. Ulysses Gonzalez.
From left to right: Norelle Giles,
Janet Lyall, Karen Ramey, Brandi Damron, Dr. Matthew Cusano,
Leaanna Smith, LeRae Boyd, Elisabeth McElroy,
James Reece, Sharon Nixon.

NORTON, Va. – Norton Community Hospital has opened a new therapy garden as part of its award-winning Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. The courtyard area will help patients heal both physically and emotionally as they go through the rehabilitation process.

The goal is to return patients to their homes at the safest level possible, with the highest level of functionality. The average age of the patients is 72, with common rehab impairments such as stroke, brain injuries, fractures and other medical conditions that cause difficulty in normal function.

“This is a terrific addition to our inpatient rehab program,” said Mark Leonard, vice president and CEO at Norton Community Hospital. “Because of this therapeutic courtyard area, our patients are going to be better prepared to go about their lives when they return home.

“We’re very appreciative of the Norton Community Hospital Foundation for raising the funds for this. It will truly make a difference for our patients and their families. We have an excellent inpatient rehab unit and this only makes it better.”

Norton’s IP rehab unit has been nationally ranked in the top 10 percent of all inpatient rehab facilities, based on its outcomes. It has served the Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky community for 16 years and is the only unit in the area that provides comprehensive rehabilitation services.

The NCH Foundation spent two years raising $95,000 for the courtyard project, which was recently unveiled at a ribbon-cutting event. It includes a ramp, stairs and uneven surfaces (pavers, gravel, concrete) to allow patients to experience these obstacles prior to returning home.

Experiencing these conditions will improve patient and family confidence with outdoor mobility and overall safety. Adequate training for patients and families will promote independence and improve safety in the home.

The healing component includes a covered area with seating for patients and families. Many of the rehabilitation patients have suffered a life-changing injury or illness and the courtyard will allow an outdoor space to promote coping and adjustment.

A bench in the middle of the courtyard was dedicated in memory of Dr. Ulysses Gonzalez by his family. Gonzalez opened a practice in Norton in 1961 and did many things to serve the community and the hospital until he retired in 1999. The garden also has three ginkgo trees dedicated to three long-serving members of the hospital board – Buford Sturgill, Robert Leonard and James Manicure.

For more information on Norton Community Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation Services, visit and go to the Norton Community Hospital page, or call 276-439-1352.


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