Dressed in all white, Wendy Wellin walks the halls of the new rehabilitation facility she and her late husband invested $1 million in, pointing out every carefully considered detail.
The walls are bleach white. The rooms are spacious, and there's art and a new TV hanging in each one. Tracks installed in the ceiling will allow patients in rehabilitation to lift themselves and move with dignity.
Wellin and her husband, philanthropist and Wall Street executive Keith Wellin, first had the idea for the project when he was recovering from a stroke on Roper St. Francis' rehabilitation floor.
"I had really good training about how to get things done. I'm dangerous," she said with a grin.
The new floor, located inside Roper Hospital, will boast brand-new equipment, including a visual therapy device and a simulator that retrains patients how to get in and out of a car, for example.
Even as the finishing touches were being put on the new floor, Wellin was adding items to the list. She wants full-length mirrors hanging on the bathroom doors, for instance. The order of the names on a placard needed to be switched.
In her husband's last years, the new stroke center became something of a project for the couple. He would spent two-and-a-half months in the hospital following his stroke. But the pair had a handful of other projects before the stroke center.
The Wellins retired to the Lowcountry in 2005. They donated millions to local hospitals, including a multimillion-dollar gift to build the Wendy and Keith Wellin Head and Neck Oncology Center, which opened in 2016 at the Medical University of South Carolina's Hollings Cancer Center. They also have made major donations outside the Lowcountry.
The stroke center will have a new physician leader. The rest of the staff will be shifted around from other parts of Roper Hospital.
“Last year we admitted 400 patients to Roper Rehab who were recovering from stroke,” said Troy Powell, director of Roper Rehab, in a press release. “It’s difficult to think that it’s that prevalent in our area, but through the generosity of those involved in this project, we’re happy to offer the services they need to do the things they need to go home.”
There will be 14 additional private rooms with the opening of the new center.
The rehabilitation facility also fits in with Roper St. Francis' recent efforts to launch an advanced stroke team. A partnership with MUSC aims to improve resource sharing between the two systems and ultimately bring down stroke response times.
Wellin, whose husband died of leukemia in 2014, addressed donors and hospital leaders earlier this summer. The unit will open in August.
"Now I have to figure out what I want to do next," she said.