Department Spotlight: Physical Therapy

The Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Physical Therapy Department is here to walk with patients on their road to recovery from injury, illness, surgery or chronic conditions.

Mary Lou Wright, PT, manages the PT Department and has seen patients at BCH for 42 years. Her team works with patients to relieve pain, restore movement, increase strength, improve balance and reduce fall risk. Outpatient therapy can be a few sessions or can last for several months.

“Our main goal with our patients is to get them back to their normal routine,” said Wright. “For some that means getting back to athletics or strenuous physical activity and for others that means being comfortable in their everyday activities, hobbies or work tasks.” She continued, “It’s all about quality of life, and that is different for each person.”

“Balance, strength and movement are the core of physical therapy,” said Emily King, a Doctor of Physical Therapy. “We are able to guide patients through exercises and give them practical tips to use as they resume their activities…The education process is vital, as patients then understand the importance of following through with recommendations once formal PT is ended.”

The department also provides services to in-patients on the medical-surgical floor. “For inpatients, we are able to evaluate their function and help the providers determine the appropriate discharge plan,” said Wright. “This could include discharge to home, short-term rehab, a skilled nursing facility, or possibly home PT services or outpatient therapy.”

When a provider prescribes physical therapy, patients have the freedom to choose where to go for treatment. “We encourage you to consider the local resource of Bertrand Chaffee Hospital’s PT department,” said King. “We are open 10 hours a day Monday through Friday for your convenience.”

To schedule an appointment or for more information, please call (716) 592-2871 ext. 1262.

Emily King, DPT, Sherry Stevens, Ronalyn Kassel, Mary Lou Wright, PT

Family, Friends, Food and Fun at Employee Summer Picnic

What a Saturday! Dozens of BCH and JBR employees and hundreds of family members and friends turned out for a fun-filled picnic at Sprague Brook Park on August 19. The activities started before noon and continued until almost dusk. Ping-pong, kan-jam, washers, a vigorous game of volleyball, and an assortment of kids and dogs made the day exactly what we wanted it to be, which was a memorable event that brought #teamchaffee together.

Thank you to all of the employees who helped with set up, food prep, manning the grill and clean up!

We will add pictures from the day on our Facebook page and here on our web site; please share your pictures too with

Congratulations, Amber Kohn, RN

At its July meeting, the BCH Foundation gave a scholarship to Amber Kohn, RN, to apply to her educational expenses. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Alfred University, and is a nurse in the BCH emergency department. She previously worked on the medical-surgical floor at BCH as a registered nurse and in the ED as a nursing assistant.

The Elizabeth Dedrick Scholarship Fund is a way to support BCH and JBR employees as they pursue degrees and training, that they can then bring to their career in caring for patients and residents.

Congratulations, Amber!

Department Spotlight: Medical-Surgical Department

The inpatient care provided on Bertrand Chaffee Hospital’s second floor forms the core of healthcare services in Springville. For recovery from a serious illness, ailment or injury, a stay at “the Gem on the Hill” is one service among many available at our community hospital.

The culture of a hospital stay has changed over the years. Weeks of recuperation in an inpatient setting used to be the norm. Today, there is an emphasis on recovering at home in consultation with one’s primary care provider.

A shift in inpatient stays at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital has been the introduction of a hospitalist program. Hospitalists are physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who manage patient care during their time “on the floor.” They coordinate medications, tests, treatment, education and discharge as a team with respiratory therapists, physical therapists, a pharmacist, social worker and family members to aid patients as they heal. Add to that a first-class nursing team and BCH patients are in good and caring hands.

“Our nursing staff understands that no one looks forward to being in the hospital,” said Donelle Thomas, RN, medical-surgical nurse manager. “We want our patients and their families to be as comfortable as possible as they recover, and that they’re prepared to continue to heal and resume normal activities once they’re released.”

With support from the BCH Foundation and donors like the BCH Women’s Association, Cordelian Club and Springville-Griffith Community Education Foundation, the hospital has invested in new inpatient beds, vital signs equipment and room renovations.

BCH Nurses Certified as Diabetes Lifestyle Coaches

Kathleen Hebdon, RN and Sheri Plummer, RN of the Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Diabetes Education team have completed the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) Lifestyle Coach certification. This complements the Diabetes Self-Management accreditation that the hospital has achieved, and will result in additional services that can be offered to patients and covered by most insurance plans.

Studies have shown that patients who attend weekly sessions in diabetes programs for an extended period of time have been rates of prevention because of the healthy lifestyle habits they develop. After an initial 16 weeks, patients are encouraged to attend a monthly support group. Those who commit to attendance up to a full year have the lowest rates of converting to a diabetes diagnosis.

As instructors, Hebdon and Plummer hear myths and misinformation about diabetes reflected back to them from patients. “Some people think that they just have ‘a little diabetes,” said Hebdon. “But the prevalent thought now is that once someone is diagnosed with pre-diabetes, about 50 percent of their pancreatic function is lost, and by the time they are diabetic, that ratio is 80 percent.”

Diabetes causes more deaths in the United States than breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes is very much a lifestyle disease. “People are resistant to starting diabetes treatment,” said Sheri Plummer, RN. “And they give excuses like ‘I’m too old’ or ‘I’m too out-of-shape’ – but they would not hesitate to start a cancer treatment!” She explained, “Pancreatic changes are permanent and progress with age, and we want our patients to start treatment and lifestyle changes immediately to preserve pancreatic function and delay or prevent having to take insulin.”

Diabetes can be treated by three modalities: medication, diet and activity. “Without exercise and activity, you are missing out on a third of the possible treatment regimen,” said Hebdon. “Our programs can help patients overcome barriers with alternative exercises for all conditions, like arthritis, back pain and immobility, and ways to work those into everyday life.”

For information about upcoming Diabetes Education programs, call (716) 592-9643.

Marion Igel: 20 Years as a BCH Volunteer

For a woman like Marion Igel of Boston, volunteering is seen in terms of a commitment to a job. She started as a transport volunteer at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and its Physical Therapy Department on June 18, 1997. And at the end of this June, twenty years later, Igel has kept that commitment to the patients of BCH.

After retiring from the banking industry and roles at the “Big E” (Erie County Savings Bank), Igel looked for a way to fill her time. Her second-oldest sister was volunteer at Our Lady of Victory, and later at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo. Igel lived in Boston, she wanted to find something closer to home.  She called Bertrand Chaffee Hospital, and was soon connected with the PT department. Her assignment: for one day a week, spend six hours transporting patients to physical therapy appointments from the Jennie B. Richmond Nursing Home and the medical-surgical floor of BCH.

“It’s the people that have kept me volunteering all these years,” explained Igel. “I grew attached, especially to some of the residents at the Jennie B.”

Igel continued, “Volunteering and helping people made me feel good, and I made great friends along the way.”

Mary Lou Wright, director of the Physical Therapy Department, explained, “Marion has put in miles of walking over the years, transporting patients and running interdepartmental errands.” Wright added, “Volunteers can ‘walk away’ at any time…Marion chose to stay, and we have been very fortunate to have her as part of our team, and to know and love her as part of our family.”

Igel has a son in Texas and a daughter who lives just a few minutes away in Boston (NY), with five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She said that she would tell future volunteers at BCH about the empathy involved in being a hospital volunteer: “Be devoted and learn to associate yourself with the patients…one day you could be in that position.”


Department Spotlight: Emergency Department

The people who work in the Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Emergency Department have the distinction of being able to say that they are part of one of the most valuable teams in our community.

As a registered nurse and nurse manager for the department, Penny Gardner, RN says that the reliability of emergency care at BCH is stronger than ever. “It’s the only place that is open every minute of every day, and we never turn anyone away,” she explained.

Just as there is no such thing as a typical day in the ED, there is no typical patient either. “Every day is completely different,” said Gardner. “But every day we come to work we know we are going to be able to help our neighbors.”

Most people don’t realize the length and depth of experience that BCH ED nurses have. Just five of the 23 nurses have a total of 130 years of nursing experience at BCH. Some have decades’ more experience at other facilities. “I am astonished by the commitment these nurses have shown throughout their career,” explained Gardner. “We are lucky to have that kind of allegiance in this small community.”

Emergency care at BCH includes the nursing staff and providers who cover the ED 24 hours a day. That doesn’t count the lab techs and imaging personnel who are ready to perform immediate tests, and the registration clerks, hospitalists and medical-surgical nurses available to admit patients.

It also doesn’t include the air medical transport crews from Mercy Flight, who can rapidly transfer patients to a higher level of care once stabilized at BCH. The ED’s connection with Mercy Flight stretches back more than 35 years. It became even more powerful with the construction of a helicopter hangar and ground transport base for Mercy EMS in 2016.

Healthcare professionals who gravitate toward emergency medicine are usually people who want to be on the frontline, ready and willing to take care of whatever comes through that door. “Emergency medicine means having the ability to take care of a severely injured patient and the family member at the bedside,” Gardner continued. “And then minutes later, we walk into another room with our entire focus on that next patient; we are truly a special breed.”