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At age 101, Madeleine Park was the oldest patient at the transitional rehabilitation unit at Allied Services John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Wilkes-Barre Township.“I will be 102 this August,†said Park, who was working on a puzzle in the unit. Park recently was discharged from the unit, which is for patients who require less intensive levels of nursing care or therapy than provided in inpatient rehabilitation, but who still require around-the-clock care and daily therapy.cv29parkp3Warren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

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At age 101, Madeleine Park was the oldest patient at the transitional rehabilitation unit at Allied Services John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Wilkes-Barre Township.“I will be 102 this August,†said Park. Park recently was discharged from the unit, which is for patients who require less intensive levels of nursing care or therapy than provided in inpatient rehabilitation, but who still require around-the-clock care and daily therapy. Ken Steenback, registered nurse and administrator of the unit,chats with Madelaine.cv29parkp4Warren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — At age 101, Madeleine Park was the oldest patient at the transitional rehabilitation unit at Allied Services John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Wilkes-Barre Township.

“I will be 102 this August,” said Park, who was working on a puzzle in the unit.

When asked what her secrets are to living such a long life, Park responded, “I was associated with younger people most of my life, which I understand tends to keep us young. Other than that, I don’t know. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke.”

Park recently was discharged from the unit, which is for patients who require less intensive levels of nursing care or therapy than provided in inpatient rehabilitation, but who still require around-the-clock care and daily therapy.

Park, who lives in Wilkes-Barre, is originally from Hazleton and moved to Plymouth in 1942. She was a teacher for 39 years at the former Plymouth High School which later became Wyoming Valley West. She retired in 1981.

She never married, but was quick to add, “If you want to know how many children I had, somewhere between 3,900 and 7,800.”

She said she was in the transitional rehabilitation unit at John Heinz because she has arthritis in her knees, one of her knees gave out and she fell in early January. She said she likes many things about the unit.

“If you want to call for help, the employees are very good,” she said. “The food is good. It’s quiet.”

Lori Evans, director of nursing at the unit, said Park is the type of patient they see at the transitional rehabilitation unit: somebody who needs a short-term stay.

Park underwent occupational and physical therapy and was able to return home, where she lives independently, Evans said.

Patients typically stay at the unit after illnesses, surgeries or medical or functional issues that prevent them from returning directly home, said Dr. Robert Cole, chief analytics officer at Allied Services.

Allied Services initially opened the transitional rehabilitation unit in 2007 to provide post-acute rehabilitation care to area seniors as an option to long-term care. Over the years, the unit changed to serve the community’s needs and expanded from 18 beds to 31 beds.

One reason for the expansion is the result of changes going on in the health care insurance industry, Cole said. Medicare and other insurers have a limited budget and are looking to save money and still deliver good outcomes.

“There’s pressure to become more cost-efficient and still deliver the same outcomes to people,” Cole said.

Another reason for the expansion is a result of the high population of the elderly in the area who need care and can’t go directly home, Cole said.

“We have inpatient rehab for people who still need the highest level of care,” Cole said. “This (the transitional rehabilitation unit) is an option for them in the same facility with the same medical staff, equipment and technology.”

Ken Steenback, registered nurse and administrator of the unit, said a typical long-term care facility might not have been the best setting for a patient like Park.

While Park was the oldest patient at the unit, Steenback said people as young as teenagers have stayed there.

Park said she is not the oldest patient at her doctor’s office.

“He has one who is 103,” she said.

dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2115

By Denise Allabaugh

Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — At age 101, Madeleine Park was the oldest patient at the transitional rehabilitation unit at Allied Services John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Wilkes-Barre Township.

“I will be 102 this August,” said Park, who was working on a puzzle in the unit.

When asked what her secrets are to living such a long life, Park responded, “I was associated with younger people most of my life, which I understand tends to keep us young. Other than that, I don’t know. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke.”

Park recently was discharged from the unit, which is for patients who require less intensive levels of nursing care or therapy than provided in inpatient rehabilitation, but who still require around-the-clock care and daily therapy.

Park, who lives in Wilkes-Barre, is originally from Hazleton and moved to Plymouth in 1942. She was a teacher for 39 years at the former Plymouth High School which later became Wyoming Valley West. She retired in 1981.

She never married, but was quick to add, “If you want to know how many children I had, somewhere between 3,900 and 7,800.”

She said she was in the transitional rehabilitation unit at John Heinz because she has arthritis in her knees, one of her knees gave out and she fell in early January. She said she likes many things about the unit.

“If you want to call for help, the employees are very good,” she said. “The food is good. It’s quiet.”

Lori Evans, director of nursing at the unit, said Park is the type of patient they see at the transitional rehabilitation unit: somebody who needs a short-term stay.

Park underwent occupational and physical therapy and was able to return home, where she lives independently, Evans said.

Patients typically stay at the unit after illnesses, surgeries or medical or functional issues that prevent them from returning directly home, said Dr. Robert Cole, chief analytics officer at Allied Services.

Allied Services initially opened the transitional rehabilitation unit in 2007 to provide post-acute rehabilitation care to area seniors as an option to long-term care. Over the years, the unit changed to serve the community’s needs and expanded from 18 beds to 31 beds.

One reason for the expansion is the result of changes going on in the health care insurance industry, Cole said. Medicare and other insurers have a limited budget and are looking to save money and still deliver good outcomes.

“There’s pressure to become more cost-efficient and still deliver the same outcomes to people,” Cole said.

Another reason for the expansion is a result of the high population of the elderly in the area who need care and can’t go directly home, Cole said.

“We have inpatient rehab for people who still need the highest level of care,” Cole said. “This (the transitional rehabilitation unit) is an option for them in the same facility with the same medical staff, equipment and technology.”

Ken Steenback, registered nurse and administrator of the unit, said a typical long-term care facility might not have been the best setting for a patient like Park.

While Park was the oldest patient at the unit, Steenback said people as young as teenagers have stayed there.

Park said she is not the oldest patient at her doctor’s office.

“He has one who is 103,” she said.

dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2115