Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


Pediatric therapy services are now offered by dedicated team of specialists

by Cristi Sanchez

As children, Dr. Tonia Burke and Dr. Robert Riek were both actively involved in sports, and, as with most young athletes, they experienced their share of minor injuries, aches, and pains.
“I was a gymnast and dancer,” Dr. Burke recalls with a smile. “But growing up in the small town of Franklin, we didn’t have physical therapy centers. I only had an opportunity to see my athletic trainer or orthopedic physician if I suffered strains and sprains.”
Dr. Riek’s experiences were very similar. “I played sports and raced motocross, had lots of injuries, and ended up doing my own rehab,” he chuckles.
Ultimately those youthful experiences led both doctors into the field of physical therapy and positions with the Sentara Therapy Center, adjacent to the Great Bridge/Hickory YMCA on South Battlefield Boulevard. Both doctors are excited to announce that the Great Bridge Sentara Therapy Center recently began offering pediatric services. Speech, occupational, and, of course, physical therapy services are now available to pediatric patients as young as a few months up to age 21.
“We have an amazing team of Physical Therapists and assistants to provide care for youth and adult patients,” Dr. Burke says. “Dr. Derrick Baskin has specialized skills such as dry needling and is a McKenzie Certified Spine specialist. Dr. Mitch Guth specializes in orthopedics and sports. Vickie Burford, PTA, has over 20 years of experience. Dr. Frances Homer has more than three decades of experience as a Chiropractor, bringing another valuable spine care option for our patients.”
“There are certainly other pediatric providers in the area, but patients often get put on a long waitlist for their services,” Dr. Riek says. “Sometimes, the wait is up to three months. We try to get our patients in within 48 hours of their call. Often we see them the very next day. We also offer telehealth services and even have a chiropractor on staff. We’re a patient-focused center dedicated to conveniently improving the health and lives of both adults and children.”
The new pediatric wing is designed to be an engaging, comforting space for youngsters. Separate from the rest of the therapy center, it’s filled with bold, bright colors that children enjoy and comes complete with therapy-centered swings, balls, scooters, jungle gyms, crash mats, and even a small rock wall.
In addition to being used for physical therapy, these play-type areas assist with pediatric occupational therapy, improving fine and gross motor skills, behavioral regulation, social skills, self-care, sensory processing, emotional regulation skills, and feeding difficulties.

“When children are successful in therapy and able to apply those skills
in other areas of life,
it increases their self-confidence,
which can improve their lives immeasurably.”
                                 —Kristen Butala McClellan

“But ultimately, what makes our pediatric therapy program so outstanding are the dedicated therapists who are in the center working directly with the kids, day after day,” Dr. Burke insists. “They deserve so much of the credit for the center’s success.”
The center’s pediatric occupational therapist, Brittany Saetre, is committed to providing a rewarding and successful experience to all of her pediatric charges and their parents.
“I absolutely love my job!” she smiles. “It is so rewarding to see my kiddos learn and grow! Most of them thoroughly enjoy occupational therapy; they learn through play—which is a child’s main occupation. Parents notice the positive impacts of therapy when they see their children achieve their individualized goals.  In fact, after completing therapy and having reinforcement at home, one child, who couldn’t tolerate messy play or certain textures on his hands, was actually able to make Christmas cookies with his family!   They were thrilled! Results like that make my job so rewarding!”

Equally committed to her pediatric patients is Kristen Butala McClellan, the center’s   pediatric speech-language pathologist, who worked with the school system before joining Sentara. Her speech therapy services for sound disorders address stuttering, incorrect sound production, sound substitution, sound/syllable elimination, and motor movement difficulties. She also provides language therapy for children who may have difficulties understanding what others say, expressing themselves through speaking and writing, or interacting with others.
“As an educator and someone who loves kids, I think it’s so crucial to help children learn how to communicate effectively,” Kristen says. “Children who experience even slight difficulties with language are at an increased risk of experiencing academic difficulties or failure. I believe that when children are successful in therapy and able to apply those skills in other areas of life, it increases their self-confidence, which can improve their lives immeasurably. Their success is the joy of my job.”

This dedication to serving and helping patients has resulted in high patient satisfaction. “Per our surveys, we have a very high patient satisfaction rating of 99.51 percent, with patients rating their outcomes as excellent,” Dr. Riek points out.
“It’s not just about our therapies being successful, though that’s a big factor,” Dr. Burke adds. “I attribute our success to individualized care. Our therapists really get to know all of our patients and develop meaningful, trusting relationships with them. In short, our therapists and their patients become good friends.”
“That personal connection is huge,” Dr. Riek agrees. “Our patients are like family. Our goal is to achieve their goals, ensure that their needs are met, and see to it that they leave feeling confident and better about themselves. Everyone here, from Dr. Burke and myself to our therapists, is committed to providing dedicated high-quality, individualized care to patients of all ages.”

Sentara Therapy Center

633 S. Battlefield Blvd
Chesapeake, VA 23322