Breaking new ground: OSF begins work on new $4M physical rehab center

ESCANABA – A new physical rehabilitation and wellness center broke ground Wednesday afternoon in Escanaba.

The new facility is part of OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group and will be named in honor of John and Patricia Besse, who made a $2.5 million contribution to the project.

The new John and Patricia Besse Physical Rehabilitation and Wellness Center will span approximately 14,500 square feet and will be located on the hospital campus along Willow Creek Road. The total cost for the project is expected to be around $4 million. Remaining funds for the facility will be provided by the OSF St. Francis Foundation and the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.

The new center will provide a larger area for existing physical and occupational therapy, work hardening, cardiac rehabilitation and athletic training services, as well as new features, including a warm-water therapy pool, a step program for patients converting from treatment to supervised preventive care and a larger gym area for additional therapeutic exercise programs.

“It’s a great day for our community. It’s a great day for our organization, our sisters and ultimately, our patients,” said OSF president and CEO Dave Lord during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Lord thanked all the people who were involved in the creation of the project, in particular, John and Patricia Besse for their gift to the community and OSF’s patients.

“This is a most special day and one that John and I had been looking forward to,” said Patricia Besse, who spoke during the ceremony. “My sadness today is that my beloved and generous husband John is not to be a part of this groundbreaking ceremony, but he was so excited about the project and was looking forward to watching the building progress of the rehabilitation and wellness center as it became a reality. I can only hope that his spirit smiling and watching over us is up there today.”

She noted John’s legacy and impact on the community will be kept alive for centuries to come and said she and John are humbled and proud to have their name connected to OSF’s latest addition. According to Patricia, she and John first became aware of this dream project for OSF’s rehabilitation department while she utilized their services there and in speaking with Paul Bracket, manager of OSF Rehab Services. Bracket, who also spoke at the ceremony, mentioned the new facility will not only enhance the strengths of OSF’s current rehabilitation and therapy department, but expand to provide additional services that are currently unavailable.

The new center will bring standardized and top-notch programs and place many services in one centralized location, he added. Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole was also present to celebrate OSF’s latest milestone.

“The project we are celebrating today has required leadership, foresight, careful planning and philanthropy,” he said. “Each of us here today has had a special role in making this project a reality and for that, everyone is to be commended.”

In addition to the new rehabilitation and wellness center, OSF has received additional funding from the Besse Foundation in the past. These include annual donations for OSF Bay de Noc Hospice, a $10,000 gift in 2000 for dialysis services, a $1 million donation in 2003 used to provide permanent MRI services, and a $5 million gift in 2006 to expand the hospital’s emergency department.

Since 1884, 0SF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group has provided care for approximately 45,000 people throughout Delta County and the surrounding communities.