June 17, 2004

CONTACT: Jennifer Riordan, Media Relations Manager:  272-0261

Bridgid Isworth or Allison Thompson: 272-3690

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A 30,000 square foot outdoor rehabilitation facility will open its gates to special needs children, their therapists and families Thursday, June 17, 12:30 p.m. at UNM's Carrie Tingley Hospital (CTH). 

The facility will formally open at a dedication ceremony in honor of Nellie Matteucci who, together with her husband, Louis Matteucci, left a $120,000 bequest to UNM Hospital (UNMH) that funded the project.

"I know it would please Nellie very much to help the children," said Catherine Domenici, niece of Nellie Matteucci.

The rehabilitation garden provides children who need intense rehabilitation and physical therapy with a "real-world" environment to develop skills and build needed strength once they leave the safety net of the hospital.

"The garden provides children suffering from orthopaedic and prosthesis impairments and challenges the best opportunity for a smooth transition into daily life," said UNMH CEO Steve McKernan.

Formerly a parking lot, the new rehabilitation garden serves as a state-of-the-art extension to the preexisting therapy playroom at CTH.  The rehabilitation garden is comprised of a myriad of specialized equipment, a large central therapeutic playground and everyday materials including concrete, gravel, grass, asphalt, flagstone steps, ramps, rails and much more.

Landscape Architect Greg Miller of Morrow, Reardon, Wilkson & Miller Ltd., the company that designed the rehabilitation garden, said that designing and building the garden was a lengthy process. "It was a five-month process of meeting with staff, parents, therapists and the patients themselves, and we are very happy with the end result," Miller said.

Many organizations and people were involved in the completion of the rehabilitation garden, including the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque, Westlink, New Mexico artist Wilson Hurley and LaFarge concrete suppliers.

The completion of the CTH Rehabilitation Garden is another example of responsive and caring healthcare services provided by UNM Hospitals. "Children and adolescents have access to outstanding therapeutic care at Carrie Tingley Hospital," UNMH Medical Director Fred Sherman, M.D., said, "and the garden only strengthens our commitment to provide the best patient care and recovery."

"We are so grateful for the tremendous support the garden has received from the community and local organizations," CTH Executive Director Barbara Ohm said. "That appreciation continues to grow with each child who benefits from the garden."

Carrie Tingley Hospital has a legacy of more than 60years of commitment to New Mexico's children and their families.  Located in Albuquerque, it is one of five hospitals in the Clinical Operations family of the Health Sciences Center at the University of New Mexico. CTH provides caring and coordinated healthcare to children and adolescents with complex musculoskeletal and orthopaedic conditions, rehabilitation needs, developmental issues and long-term physical disabilities.