Members of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital this week are celebrating a milestone of having now been in Charlestown at their new, world-class waterfront facility for five years – going from an unknown quantity in the Town to a valued member of the community.
“It feels great to celebrate five years,” said President David Storto this week, noting that the official date is this Friday, April 27. “I think even prior to the five years and when we were participating in development meetings and interacting first with the community. Back then there were a lot of questions, if not to some extent suspicion whether this would all work – and us being like a developer. Now, from our perspective, we feel like a neighbor and a part of the neighborhood. We like to think that’s the case and that’s the indication we get…We’re really grateful to Charlestown and particularly to the residents of the Navy Yard for all the support in what we do here. We really do appreciate the fact that we are neighbors.”
Storto said he recalled how the late David Whelan was such an advocate for the neighborhood and a fair participant in the process of Spaulding’s relocation and construction project.
He also recalled the first-year anniversary of Spaulding in Charlestown, and how the Basilica condo building hung a simple sign on their building across the street that read, ‘Thank You, Spaulding.’
Many in that building, naturally, had great concerns during the community process, and were transformed by the opening and the hospital’s participation in the healing from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
“That was a defining moment in terms of the changing relationship between the neighbors, the community at large and Spaulding,” he said. “Everyone locally was touched in regard to our role with the bombing and the role we played in the city’s recovery from it all.”
And that was one other major part of the last five years, the extensive role that Spaulding played in helping Marathon Bombing survivors recover and heal from their injuries. Spaulding opened 12 days after the bombing, and it became a central location in the months afterward for the nation as it watched the healing process.
Storto said it was a heart-wrenching ordeal, but the positive that came out of it was it helped the community and the country to understand the importance of rehabilitation.
“I think the silver lining in the tragedy for the public and for us was to have people understand the importance of rehabilitation medicine in a greater way,” he said.
That has played out with several high-profile events, including last fall’s Hollywood-style world premiere of the movie ‘Stronger’ at the hospital. It’s also played out in visits from members of the local community and sports celebrities.
“All of us at Spaulding want to take this opportunity as we reflect back to thank (the community) for its support and partnership these past five years,” Storto, a Charlestown resident, wrote. “We look forward to the next five years and beyond to what all of us together can accomplish. It has been our honor to join the Charlestown community and establish one of the world’s leading centers of healing and science.”