October 9, 2016: An Adventist hospital’s rubber ducks have floated to the headlines in Southern California and online. Glendale Adventist Medical Center’s Acute Rehabilitation Center is delighting patients with a quirky reminder of childhood in the form of rubber ducks that dot their 94-degree rehab pool. The medical center’s therapists use the disarming bath time toys to enhance patient pool therapy.
It all started with a hunch by a physical therapy aide that rubber ducks would help a particular patient conquer her pool therapy fears. Margarita Garcia experimented with stroke survivor Laura Cerda’s therapy, betting that a rubber duck would help ease the non-swimmer’s anxiety about entering the pool.
Cerda was interviewed by ABC television news affiliate KABC Channel 7. She told the reporter that the ducks brought “wonderful memories of when my kids were little, and it was very comforting and so my stress dropped and I was able to begin my physical therapy.”
In a competitive healthcare environment dominated by headlines of rising costs, facility construction updates and expensive high-tech solutions, the rehab center’s decidedly low-tech rubber duck collection has grown wings and soared in popularity. The ducks are now regularly used with rehab patients.
People have added to the rubber duck collection, which now totals almost 100 specimens. A Magna Carta duck, a highly popular pirate duck, a team of Village People ducks and the holiday-appropriate, black-caped Halloween duck all now share pool space with patients.
For now, at least, it seems that Adventist health care may have embraced “quackery” as a cutting-edge therapeutic technique. The medical center was one of the original sanitariums built in California around the turn of the 20th century and water-based therapy has been part of its innovative approach to healing from the beginning, so it should come as a surprise the creativity continues.