It's a fun day at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital today, as they welcome employee number 1,000!

And, it won’t be any ordinary first day on the job for number 1,000, physician assistant Ashley Wharton. She will be met with a red carpet, cake, and well wishers as she reports for duty.

I can hear her speech now..."I want to thank the academy and my family......"  Hopefully, all of the excitement won't scare her away.  She may think, do I want to work with all these wacky people?


Seriously, the growth for Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, acute care rehabilitation hospital, has been astounding in the past 17 months. Between July 2011 and December 2012, 267 additional staff members have been added for a 36% increase. The vast majority of additional hires have filled clinical positions. Industry analysts call this a great achievement especially when many hospitals have static or diminishing employee rolls.

Mary Free Bed CEO, Kent Riddle, says more employees are needed to care for an increasing number of patients. Inpatient admissions jumped 39% at the Grand Rapids hospital from July 2011 to December 2012 compared with the previous 17-month period. Riddle explains, “I’m excited about the growth, but not just for growth’s sake. We’ve increased the number of patients being served.” He continues, “For me, the number of patients isn’t about the bottom line, it’s about the people we’re caring for – people who are going to have better outcomes and brighter futures.”

During the past 17 months, Mary Free Bed has achieved a number of accomplishments:
• Forged an alliance with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago – the nation’s number one rehabilitation hospital
• Developed the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Network – a consortium of collaborative hospitals and organizations which expands access to services
• Purchased leading-edge rehabilitation equipment, such as the Lokomat Pro®
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