When Chanda Hinton Leichtle was nine years old, a bullet from an accidental shooting severed a portion of her spinal cord, leaving her with quadriplegia for life. She almost died a second time, 12 years later, when the agony of chronic pain left her bedridden and only 59 pounds. Integrative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic work saved Hinton Leichtle, and the 35-year-old has been fighting to bring such services to others with long-term physical disabilities through her Lakewood-based nonprofit, Chanda Plan Foundation, since 2005. To that end, her charity will make its largest contribution this month when it opens the Chanda Center for Health, the country’s first integrated medical center for individuals with physical disabilities. The goal, Hinton Leichtle says, is to provide patients with the “quality, person-centered, and streamlined health care they deserve.” To wit: The 6,000-square-foot facility, also located in Lakewood, will offer primary care, mental health services, and nutrition counseling, plus adaptive yoga and other integrative therapies—all in a space specifically designed to serve a population used to being ignored.
- Easy Access The medical center’s entrance will face west so patches of ice on the sidewalks and in the parking lot—especially dangerous for those in wheelchairs—will melt more quickly.
- Counter Space Counters pop out of the front desk in the reception area, creating writing surfaces that are long and high enough for wheelchairs to fit under them.
- Powerful Relief Off a lounge area sits a patio with a designated grassy patch where service dogs can relieve themselves.
- Closed-Door Policy If an individual doesn’t have enough function in her wrists or hands to turn door handles, she can push a button that will close and lock—or unlock and open—the doors to each of the health center’s four restrooms.
- Healthy Eating One of the Chanda Plan’s board members works at a health- care organization that teaches caregivers how to cook for their loved ones; it plans to hold classes in the new center’s community tea bar and yoga room.
- Heavy Lifting Two of the nine treatment rooms will be equipped with ceiling lifts. This allows providers to move patients from wheelchairs to the exam table and back without having to carry them, reducing the possibility of injury to patients and staff.
- Going Up In the future, Hinton Leichtle hopes to add an elevator to the center so she and any other staffers in wheelchairs can access the supplies in the basement storage area.