Success stories from the Calvin College Rehabilitation Services (CCRS) are making their way into the Grand Rapids community. Having served 443 clients since first opening in 2015, the clinic is becoming a valued part of the local rehabilitation network.

Two years ago, Calvin College partnered with Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University to create a high-quality rehabilitation clinic offering an array of services. Years earlier, clinical instructors began noticing that many clients were in need of continued occupational and physical therapy. The convergence of these needs inspired the idea for CCRS, a clinic that provides speech-language, occupational and physical therapy, and hearing services, neuropsychology and social work services, all under one roof. The clinic is open to the public and participates with most insurance companies.

At CCRS clients receive individual support from licensed and certified therapists, comprehensive assessments and customized treatment plans. “We are very intentional about keeping the clients with the same therapists for consistency of care and to develop that special relationship between the therapist and the client,” said Steven Vanderkamp, director of the clinic. “This enables the therapist to better understand the unique needs of each client and address those appropriately.”

In addition, the clinic offers training to graduate-level students. “Because our therapists are responsible for teaching students how to be effective therapists of the future, they are expected to remain current in new literature and updated on treatment options,” said Vanderkamp.

Calvin College Rehabilitation Services building.
Calvin College Rehabilitation Services building

CCRS is located on the northwest corner of the East Beltline and Lake Drive ( Google Map), adjacent to Calvin’s campus. The space includes a waiting area, a group therapy room, seven multifunctional treatment rooms, two soundproof audiology booths and a physical therapy gym, complete with a climbing wall, hand bike, parallel bars, exercise mat table and a therapeutic swing.

The clinic is very intentional about their collaborative care model, explained Vanderkamp. “For those clients who receive multiple services here, the therapy staff and students collaborate to ensure they understand the overall goals the client intends to reach,” he said. “All services are coordinated among team members so that clients’ goals are achieved in the most efficient and effective—and therefore the least costly—method.”

Life is still good | Lanny Dewitt

Lanny DeWitt smiles as his therapist helps him with a speech-generating device.

Lanny DeWitt suffered a massive stroke in 2013, resulting in severe swelling and bleeding of the brain. “We had no idea something was wrong. It was such a sudden onset,” said his wife, Carol.

DeWitt graduated from Calvin in 1977 and then taught history for 37 years and coached basketball, baseball and soccer.

“After Lanny’s stroke, our kids put info on a care page,” said Carol. “We got notes from people all over the world. It meant so much to see how Lanny had impacted the lives of so many students during his time teaching.”

The stroke left DeWitt unresponsive at first, said Carol. A few days later, DeWitt underwent major brain surgery. After some recovery, DeWitt was still unable to write, type or speak. He had no leg movement and could not use his right arm.

Three years ago, DeWitt began attending Calvin College Rehabilitation Services. “Everybody kept telling us to come here,” said Carol. “So, a year after his stroke, Lanny came to his first group session.” Carol said his first day the therapist helped him say his name, something he had not done since the stroke. “It had me in tears,” she said.

“We love that this place is working to collaborate with multiple institutions,” said Carol. “Lanny is all for collaboration. We have had so much support here. God’s been so good to us.”

“Lanny had a really quick recovery, much faster than the doctors thought,” said Carol. “Lanny is such a go-getter. Even after his stroke he had this drive and awesome outlook.” Carol said she knows his determination helped him get through everything with an amazing attitude.

DeWitt has recovered significantly since the stroke. He now walks without assistance, uses his right arm and does some writing and typing. DeWitt has started using more words, and for longer conversations, he and his therapists have programmed a speech-generating device for assistance.

Carol believes DeWitt’s outstanding recovery is a result of his attitude and perseverance. “Lanny’s positive outlook is, no doubt, from above,” she said. “Even after everything he’s been through, life is still good.”

Support through difficult times | Eda Leach

Eda Leach smiles as she reaches for a card in front of her.

Eda Leach, a social worker of 12 years, suffered a stroke in 2012. “I went to bed, then woke at 2:30 in the morning. I tried calling my sister, but I couldn’t talk.” Leach said she rolled off her bed and stayed there, alone, for over 12 hours. At 2:30 in the afternoon, her friend called her wondering why she was not at their social work conference. “I had to tell my friend what happened without talking,” she said. “She realized something was wrong and called the ambulance.

“Each patient has a special story, and if given the opportunity, are very willing to share it. We value these stories because they allow us to gain insights into what is going on in our patients’ lives: what helps them and what the barriers are to their recovery. As a result, we think the outcome for our patients is better.” Steven Vanderkamp, Clinic Director

“God was with me during that time because I was able to put some clothes on,” said Leach. “I wasn’t even able to walk, but managed to open the door so the ambulance could get me.”

Leach could not walk or talk for more than a year after her stroke. Her body’s entire right side had been affected. She said the side of her face was drooping, and it was like her right arm was dead.

Shortly after her stroke, Leach began coming to Calvin College Rehabilitation Services. Leach worked with occupational therapists. She now has use of her right arm, when before she couldn’t even write and would become fatigued after any movement.

“I am learning to speak properly again,” said Leach. She and her speech therapist practice skills like talking on the telephone, writing, reading and having conversations with unfamiliar listeners.

Sometimes she would find herself crying during her rehabilitation process, but Leach remained hopeful and motivated. “You have to keep on being positive and go to a lot of support groups,” she said.

Leach said the people at CCRS helped her immensely: “After my stroke, all the people I met told me, ‘It will be OK. Keep on doing all you can and everything will be OK.’ It helped me keep calm.”

Keeping Hope Alive | Deb Stouten

Deb Stouten smiles to the right as she carries a walking stick in one hand.

“Even though we must deal with the storms in life, and we can’t ignore our problems, we must remain hopeful in all that we do and stay full of zeal, even when it’s hard,” said Deb Stouten, a graduated patient of Calvin College Rehabilitation Services (CCRS).

In fall 2015, Stouten developed a large aortic aneurism close to her heart that needed immediate repair. During her surgery, Stouten suffered a severe brain bleed that was not discovered until several months later.

The stroke affected her ability to perform everyday tasks. “I had no balance and I couldn’t walk. I was using a walker all the time and had double vision,” she said. After several months of therapy, Stouten was referred to CCRS to continue her recovery.

Through her struggle, Stouten said she had to keep her hope alive. “That was the time I really had to look at my faith and rely on God. I tried to focus on my seven beautiful children and 11 grandchildren.”

Before her stroke, Stouten was a motivational speaker. “I had always shared stories of hope, but so many of my stories were about other people,” she said. “Now it’s my story.

Stouten spent over a year working with CCRS occupational and physical therapists. She has regained much of her balance and walks with only a cane.

“I am a strong believer,” said Stouten. She said her faith, coupled with CCRS, helped her focus on healing; she said it was like they put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

“Here, you feel like you’re a person, not a patient. That’s what makes this place so great; everyone feels really loved and cared for,” said Stouten. “It doesn’t feel clinical here. It’s warm.

“They cared about not just getting my balance back, but getting me emotionally stable as well,” she said. “It was bittersweet leaving here. I was excited to be graduating, but these people have become friends.”