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Special Tree Blog

Special Tree's Wound Care Program Takes a Big Leap


What started out as an in-service for an advanced wound care device in December 2018 turned into an epic journey to rethink how we do wound care at Special Tree.   After attending the in-service, CEO Joe Richert was so intrigued by the technology, he asked Chief Nursing Officer Lela Hickonbottom how it could help our clients.  “His inquiry really inspired us to rethink our common approaches to wound care and to look for opportunities for innovation,” she said.  It was shortly after the in-service that Lela, Director of Nursing Della Little, and NCC Asst. Administrator Lisa Bray joined forces with Chief Quality Officer Mark Mac Aleese and his team to form a quality task force to evaluate our wound care program and to implement changes to take it to the next level.   

Process Improve...

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Special Tree Wins MIPex Award

The Michigan Performance Excellence Council (MiPex) has awarded Special Tree with the 2020 Michigan Performance Excellence Award, the state’s highest honor for organizations that have demonstrated outstanding performance, leadership, and operational excellence.

“This award really highlights that we are a high-quality organization,” says Mark Mac Aleese, Special Tree Chief Quality Officer. “It demonstrates our superior clinical and business outcomes and that we continually strive for agility, adaptability and overall best practices in every realm.”  He credits several factors in moving Special Tree to the level of quality to win the award including technological advancements such as adding the Zero G system and a new internal lab. 

The MIPex award program is modeled after the National Baldrige Performance Exc...

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The Art of Recovery: After a Traumatic Brain Injury, Patient Returns to College to Finish Her Design Degree

Special Tree client Jessica M. was just a year and a half from graduating from Oakland University in Rochester, MI when her life took a dramatic turn in January 2014.  

That winter, Jessica felt like things were finally falling into place.  After changing her major several times at Ferris State University, she’d transferred to Oakland University to pursue her dream of becoming a graphic designer.  Although OU was a 75 mile drive from her home in Monroe, MI, she was thriving in their design program and was looking forward to graduating to start her own design firm closer to home.  Jessica had even lined up an interview during the first week of winter classes for a nice part-time job to help pay for school.  On the day of her interview, she left campus early because it was snowing.  It was the last thing Jessica reme...

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Special Tree's New Learning Series Covers Essentials of Living With a Spinal Cord Injury

Special Tree is ramping up our SCI programming beginning with a new educational course for patients and their family/care-providers.  The course, which kicked-off on November 5th, consists of six one-hour classes presented by Special Tree clinicians on how to manage life after a spinal cord injury.  The classes are offered twice a week at the NeuroCare Campus (NCC) during the first three weeks of every month and deal with important topics such as spinal cord anatomy, skin care, bowel and bladder care, mental health, secondary health complications, and sexuality and relationships.  (Special Tree’s SCI Community Liaison Todd Hammons will continue to provide peer-to-peer support programming at NCC on the third Wednesday of every month.)

“We’re so excited to offer this course to our patients with SCI and their care-pro...

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Special Tree Welcomes New Neuropsychologist

Special Tree is pleased to welcome Emily Robinett, Ph.D.  Dr. Robinett provides neurolopsychology evaluations and works closely with our interdisciplinary team to integrate neuropsychology interventions into individualized rehabilitation services for the patients we serve.  

Along with monitoring the neurobehavioral status of inpatient patients and providing comprehensive outpatient neuropsychological evaluations, she is currently working to integrate information about each patient's current cognitive functioning into Special Tree’s Vocational Services and Pre-Driving programs.

 “Having neuropsychological evaluations in place before clients begin a specialized program helps them to focus on their strengths and to avoid likely pitfalls.”

Dr. Robinett earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphas...

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Special Tree Celebrates 10th Consecutive Top Workplace Award

For the 10th year in a row, Special Tree has earned a Top Workplace Award from the Detroit Free Press! Special Tree was thrilled to rank #13 in the Large-Size company category, placing it in the top third of the list.  The recognition is based solely on employee feedback through a survey that covers topics like work and life balance, salary, benefits, leadership, and corporate culture.

“This award belongs to all of our employees at Special Tree,” said CEO Joe Richert.  “While it’s gratifying to have earned this recognition for ten years, we’re most thankful for our fabulous team.  The outstanding rehabilitation and care they provide to our clients throughout...

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Special Tree Support Services Help Voc Clients to 'Test the Waters'

As clients progress through Special Tree’s vocational training programs, many have developed strong work-readiness skills for community-based employment but haven’t put them to the test to make sure they’re ready to successfully get and keep a job.

That was the case with Paul, a vocational client since 2009, whose goal was to obtain a job as a dietary aide.  According to Special Tree Vocational Counselor Tara Forster, one way to gauge if clients like Paul are ready to work in the community is through natural support work experiences at Special Tree’s NeuroCare Center.  “With housekeeping, laundry, and kitchen service work available, it’s a win-win approach that allow clients to test out their work-readiness skills without a job coach,” she said.

Tara works closely with Vickie Lambert, Special Tree’s Manager...

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Special Tree Patients Build American Flag With 8K Plastic Army Men

Patients in Special Tree’s Vocational program went all in to honor Veterans as part of the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall which stopped in Hamburg, MI over the Labor Day weekend.  Patients showed their patriotism by crafting a 4 ft. x 6 ft. American flag made entirely of plastic army men which was displayed with other local memorials at the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which has traveled the U.S. for the past 25 years.

The idea for the flag came up when Steve Kozmor, the Woodshop Coordinator at Special Tree’s Industrial Operations Center (IOC) in Wayne, MI, attended a local VFW event and met a woman who suggested constructing a memorial for the Moving Wall’s visit to Hamburg.  Steve became involved with the VFW a few years ago through his friend Bob who served...

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Spotlight | Celebrating our Day Treatment and Vocational Services Teams!

We're celebrating Day Treatment Services and Vocational Services Week here at Special Tree!  Get to know one member of the team Brooke Foulds, CTRS, new Clinical Team Leader for the Mid-Michigan Day Treatment (DTS) and Pediatric Rehabilitation programs.  Brooke is a Certified Recreational Therapist and has worked with Special Tree's Pediatric Rehabilitaiton team at the Neuro Skills Center in Troy for the past three years.  She recently moved to Midland to be a part of the exciting expansion of Special Tree's DTS and Pediatric programming in Mid-Michigan.

Special Tree has Day Treatment Services and Vocational Services programs in Wayne, Oakland, and Midland Counties that strive to provide the best qualtiy of life to our clients through community outings, recreational activities, community-based job coaching, vocatio...

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Special Tree's Summer Program is Going Strong

Under the Big Top
Week 3 of Discover! Summer took our students on a trip to the circus! The week started with circus-themed movement games and therapeutic activities including everything from parachute games and a ring toss to building your own stilts and circus yoga. 

Highlights for the week included learning to juggle and a visit from the Detroit Circus Show. Even though juggling was a hard task to learn, the kids had a blast – and all the hand and eye coordination involved in this therapeutic activity was great for their motor skills.  During the interactive Detroit Circus Show, the kids had a chance to help the magicians with some of their magic tricks which required a lot of focus to understand how tricks were done. 

Marvel Madness
Captain America, Iron Man,...

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