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What did PeaceHealth do with its old cancer center in Bellingham?

Kenny Burke, clinical coordinator for outpatient therapy, checks out the new therapy pool under construction at the new Grabow Therapy and Wellness Center during a tour Friday Nov. 11, 2016, in Bellingham.
Kenny Burke, clinical coordinator for outpatient therapy, checks out the new therapy pool under construction at the new Grabow Therapy and Wellness Center during a tour Friday Nov. 11, 2016, in Bellingham. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

PeaceHealth’s old cancer center is re-opening next week with a new name and a new focus.

The outpatient Grabow Therapy and Wellness Center will open for patients on Nov. 21.

Located at 3217 Squalicum Parkway, the 12,500-square-foot space is an expansion of the former cancer center building, which has been closed since early 2013.

The current PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center opened December 2012 at 3301 Squalicum Parkway.

Renovating the space for the new therapy and wellness center, including equipment, is costing about $3.6 million.

The PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation has pledged to raise $1.6 million of that through grants and donations.

The Grabow Center brings different types of physical rehabilitation and therapy under one roof.

“This brings everything together in a much more efficient way,” said Dale Zender, chief executive for PeaceHealth’s Hospital Services NW.

It will help patients by bringing PeaceHealth’s outpatient rehabilitation services from two main locations in Bellingham into one. The new location also is convenient because of its proximity to other PeaceHealth centers that focus on cancer, orthopedics and sports medicine, and senior health, as well as Whatcom Occupational Health.

That alleviates frustration “felt by many patients, especially those who are physically challenged,” said Hilary Andrade, spokeswoman for PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. “Currently, patients often have to travel to various clinic, hospital and outlying sites throughout Bellingham for care.”

Donors and caregivers on Friday got a sneak peek of the center, with its wooden floors, airy space and bright pieces of cheery art by Bellingham artist R.R. Clark, also known as FishBoy. Among the visitors was Conrad Grabow, the center’s 85-year-old namesake who donated an undisclosed amount of money to the project.

Grabow said he donated “because of the excellent treatment I got (from PeaceHealth) when I had colon cancer.”

“It’s my way of showing my thanks for it,” said the Bellingham resident and Navy veteran with the Seabees’s amphibious battalion.

As for having the center named after him: “I laugh because it’s so hard to pronounce,” Grabow joked.

A number of services will be offered in the Grabow Center. They include occupational, physical and speech therapy as well as rehabilitation for sports injuries, cancer, and neurological illness such as stroke and Parkinson’s.

There will be two gyms, 15 treatment rooms, an education center, and aquatic therapies that include two underwater treadmills in a pool.

“It gives us another dimension of what we’re able to offer patients, especially with aquatic-based therapy,” said Mike Hampton, physical therapist and manager for rehabilitation services.

The treadmills could be used, for example, by patients recovering from torn anterior cruciate ligaments or strokes who don’t yet have the strength for rehabilitation without extra help.

“It’s an avenue to get them in a buoyant situation where they can still work on endurance,” Hampton said.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

Take a tour

What: Grabow Therapy and Wellness Center open house and grand opening. People can tour the new space, see the new therapy pool and learn about programs and expanded services.

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6

Where: 3217 Squalicum Parkway, Bellingham

Details: 360-788-6420 and peacehealth.org/st-joseph/rehabilitation

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