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Celebrating National Rehabilitation Awareness during September

September 24, 2021
Authored by Michelle La France

During the month of September, we celebrate National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, observed this year from September 20 through September 26. We’re proud to highlight our outstanding rehab and therapy teams at Day Kimball Healthcare (DKH). These colleagues provide occupational, physical, and speech therapy services to help our patients recover and get back to their normal lives faster.

To learn more about DKH’s rehabilitation services, visit www.daykimball.org/physicalmedicine.

Amanda Gentry, Speech Language Pathologist
Outpatient Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Day Kimball Healthcare Center in Danielson

As a speech language pathologist, Amanda spends her days evaluating and treating a variety of communication disorders including speech, language, voice, fluency (stuttering), swallowing, and cognition to help improve her patients’ quality of life.

Amanda was raised in a small New England town at the base of Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Vermont where she grew up snowboarding and skiing since the age of five. It turns out she was quite the athlete throughout high school. As a three sport (soccer, basketball, and softball) athlete, Amanda was a member of six state championship teams three years in a row.

She attended the University of Connecticut from 2010-2014. While there Amanda took an elective course, Intro to Communication Sciences and Disorders, which inspired her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Amanda continued her education at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY where she earned a Master of Science in Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is Lee Silverman Voice Therapy Certified.

In 2016, Amanda moved to Taftville, CT to live with her college sweetheart, Andrew. After working for a few years in a skilled nursing facility, Amanda was seeking a change which she discovered at DKH in October 2018. Turns out the Quiet Corner has a lot in common with Ludlow, Vermont and felt like home.

When asked why she likes practicing at DKH, Amanda said, “I like the family atmosphere here. Everyone knows everyone which reminds me of being at home in Ludlow. I also like that I get to work in a variety of settings from outpatient to inpatient and with both pediatric and geriatric patients.”

Getting to know Amanda, you quickly realize that she’s quick witted. In her spare time, she is usually found at the gym, reading a good book, baking, or going to Vermont or Pennsylvania to visit family and friends. She would never turn down coffee or chocolate or the chance to sport a crazy hat at the Kentucky Derby.

Rachel Kaphammer, OTR/L

Inpatient Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam

To say that Rachel Kaphammer loves her job is an understatement. She is one of our many stellar occupational therapists at Day Kimball Hospital, and one of the things she enjoys most about her job is helping her patients maximize their functioning and independence in meaningful activities.

“As a therapist in the inpatient setting, we are often the first step in a patient’s recovery and rehabilitation journey,” shared Rachel. “We don’t get to see patients through to the final stages of their rehab process, but the small moments at the start of their recovery – like seeing someone smile after helping them get out of bed for the first time – make this job so worth it!”

For Rachel, her professional journey in healthcare started in 2011 as a personal care assistant for Day Kimball HomeMakers while working towards an associate’s degree from Quinebaug Valley Community College, Danielson, CT. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT, graduating in 2016.

While working as a personal care assistant for Day Kimball HomeMakers, Rachel’s career took a more personal turn when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rachel saw firsthand the impact that occupational therapy had in helping her mom achieve independence again, and the experience set Rachel on a path to therapy school.

“I was able to see how much of a positive impact occupational therapy had in my own family, and I knew that becoming an occupational therapist was a way for me to enhance my ability to provide direct, meaningful and purposeful care to others,” she said.

In 2018, after receiving a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Bay Path University, Longmeadow, MA, she joined the inpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation team at Day Kimball Hospital. Rachel is MoCA (Montreal Cognitive Assessment) certified, and is currently pursuing certification as a neuro specialist as she begins to take her skills and expertise to the outpatient setting. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Connecticut Occupational Therapy Association.

Rachel currently resides in Canterbury with her 12-year-old daughter, Olivia, and their dog, Ranger. Off the clock, she enjoys exploring New England’s outdoor adventures with Olivia. From tent camping to paddle boarding to hiking, the pair are always finding new ways to discover the outdoors together.

Leah Kelleher, DPT, PT

Outpatient Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Day Kimball Healthcare Center in Putnam
Leah Kelleher practices physical therapy at our Day Kimball Healthcare Center in Putnam, an area of specialization she knew she wanted to pursue from a young age.

Growing up, her mother worked for Smith Nephew, a medical technology company in Massachusetts, where Leah was often able to meet international surgeons and observe them performing surgeries using the latest techniques and newest devices on cadavers. When passion met curiosity, she knew she had found her calling.

By the time she arrived at the University of Hartford as an undergraduate student, she was fascinated with medical rehabilitation and decided to pursue the profession of physical therapy. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in health science, Leah attended the Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. During graduate school, she was the recipient of the Amanda Guerin Professional Promise Award, given in recognition for exemplary motivation and initiative shown in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

A school-based clinical rotation at Connecticut Children’s Hospital spurred her interest in pediatrics. Today, she treats children with diagnoses varying from torticollis/plagiocephaly to developmental/gross motor delays.

Prior to joining Day Kimball Healthcare in 2017, Leah worked as a physical therapist on the Deep Brain Stimulator Clinic Team at Rhode Island Hospital where she discovered her second passion – helping patients with neurological conditions. She went on to achieve a national certification in a rehabilitation technique for the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions known as LSVT BIG ®. This one-on-one treatment program helps neuro patients address walking, balance and other actives of daily living or even job-related tasks.

Leah became even more invested in working with neuro patients after watching her father recover from a carotid artery dissection. “I saw him go from running 10 miles a day to learning how to walk again,” she shared. “His goal during recovery was to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. 3 months following his stroke, he achieved that goal thanks to his doctors and therapists who supported him along the way.”

Leah is enthusiastic about her work, noting that she loves having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of her patients. She takes pride in helping patients make progress while inspiring them to find value in improving and enhancing their health through movement.

With a career centered around movement, Leah is rarely at rest. Outside of helping patients recover, she enjoys competitive horseback riding in the New England region, and spending time with her husband and their two children.

Bethany Petrella, PT, MSOPT

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Day Kimball Healthcare at Home in Putnam
Bethany Petrella brings over 30 years of expertise in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and a passion for helping people, to her position as a physical therapist with Day Kimball Healthcare at Home.

Battling a knee injury in her youth flamed her desire to pursue a career in physical medicine and rehabilitation. This personal experience inspired Bethany to volunteer at her local community hospital, where she learned a great deal about the inner-workings of physical therapy.

Her passion for physical medicine led Bethany to obtain a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Connecticut, and a master’s degree in orthopedic physical therapy from Quinnipiac College.

As a new graduate, Bethany’s career began at Meriden Wallingford Hospital. She has also worked for several nursing and rehabilitation facilities, Rockville General Hospital, and Central Physical Therapy in Putnam, all of which exposed her to a number of specialties (including manual therapies for chronic pain, vestibular therapy, wound care, and fall prevention just to name a few) before joining Day Kimball Healthcare at Home in 2013.

In her role at DKH at Home, she especially enjoys working with students from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in their clinical program, and her involvement with Northeast Connecticut’s Fall Prevention Initiative where she provides fall prevention education to older adults, family caregivers and healthcare providers.

Being able to provide rehabilitation services to her community gives Bethany great pride. “What I like most about my job is making a difference in my patients’ lives. I feel like we can do this especially in the homecare setting because we are spending one-on-one quality time with patients in their own environment. This allows us to work with them on home safety including fall prevention, medication management, provide caregiver support, and their personal goals.”

When Bethany is not actively rehabilitating patients, she can be found spending time with her three children (ages 13, 21, and 23), walking her dog, Maddie, gardening, and watching the Red Sox. She also enjoys retreating to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and taking trips to the ocean.

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