WYANDOTTE, Mich. - The William H. Honor Rehabilitation Center, part of Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, recently received an interesting piece of new equipment compliments of Ford Motor Company, DST Industries and several ambitious employees.
To help patients who have lost functionality due to illness or injury regain some of their physical capabilities, physical therapy facilities use many skill-building tools. Back in the 1990s, Denise Dailing, administrator for the rehabilitation and orthopedics service line at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, worked with her brother, Bill Morrow, technical expert, Ford Ignition Systems, to get a Mercury Sable formerly used in vehicle testing prepped and donated to the Wyandotte rehabilitation center.
This unit assisted patients in re-learning how to get into and out of a car and how to maneuver within the car and operate many of its features. Being that the unit was able to be kept indoors, therapists could use it year-round without worrying about taking patients outdoors during inclement Michigan weather.
Fast forward to 2013 when Mary McMillan, director of anesthesia for HFWH, while visiting the same physical therapy department was introduced to the 1994 Sable. She noted the wear and tear it had endured helping 800 patients per year since 1994. McMillan quickly reached out to a friend at Ford she thought might be able to help.
That friend was Laurie Phelps, a Ford Human Resources supervisor, and she was more than happy to get the ball rolling.
“The old Sable the center had been using was worn and covered with duct tape,” Phelps said. “It had seen better days not to mention it no longer represented the current Ford lineup. We wanted to get a vehicle in there that could better help patients and also represent all of the wonderful cars Ford builds today. I began working to replace the old Sable with a new Escape.”
Phelps started by obtaining the proper internal approvals and contacting the rehabilitation center for details on what they would need. She in turn dispatched Greg Sauve, the on-site Ford supervisor for PD Clearinghouse Operations at DST, and Gloria Basile from DST, to research the needs of the patients and the space the building allowed.
Ironically enough, members of the current DST team also prepared the Mercury Sable for donation back in the day. Ford contracts with DST for a variety of purposes and has used the company to assist with the scrap, salvage and resale of tested vehicles for more than a decade. For this particular project however, in addition to removing all of the fluids and the engine, the DST team also made sure to keep all electrical equipment intact so patients would be able to use all of the features within the center stack of the vehicle.
Additionally, the Escape’s wheels were removed and the body of the vehicle was placed onto a strong frame atop dolly-like wheels so it could be moved throughout the building. All in all, the cost to prep the vehicle was $8,300, a tab that was picked up by the Ford Fund.
On Oct. 22, the William H. Honor Rehabilitation Center received its new modified Ford Escape customized to meet the needs of patients while also being easily transportable within the building.
“I felt very proud,” said Phelps who was able to visit the center shortly after the Escape was delivered. “It was a really good opportunity for Ford to help in this community.”
Representatives from DST Industries, Ford, and Henry Ford Wyandotte prepare to unveil the customized Escape.