Q & A with John J. Danko, DO, St. Joe’s Mercy Chelsea


From St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea with Doug Marrin

St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, a joint venture hospital between Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Michigan Medicine, has continued to rapidly grow since 2018. In the past year alone, the hospital has credentialed more than 100 new doctors and now boasts a medical staff of approximately 750 physicians. The hospital has introduced bariatric and robotic surgery, expanded its operating room capacity, dramatically increased urology services, and has plans to expand plastic surgery, endocrinology, orthopedic surgery and general surgery.

The Sun Times News recently spoke with St. Joe's Chelsea physician John Danko, DO, medical director of Inpatient Rehabilitation, to discuss recent changes made within the hospital's Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, and how these changes will benefit future patients.

What is inpatient rehabilitation and what health benefits do your patients experience from having these services available inside St. Joe's Chelsea?

A: Acute inpatient rehabilitation is an intensive inpatient rehab program that helps patients achieve his or her goals to become as independent as possible and safely return home. Patients participate in an interdisciplinary rehab program totaling three hours each day. It consists of physical, occupational and speech language pathology therapies to address impairments in mobility and self-care. In addition, we have recreational therapy, rehab neuropsychology, orthotics and prosthetics, and dedicated rehabilitation nursing to provide bedside care around the clock. Education is a cornerstone of our inpatient rehab program. We work to help patients understand disease processes, and help counsel them on compensatory strategies or lifestyle changes.

Q: What sort of conditions do patients have that require intensive therapy following illness or injury?

A: We treat patients of all ages that have had traumatic injuries, including car accidents, work injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke, traumatic brain injury, amputation and those who are debilitated following lengthy ICU stays.

Q: Who will a patient interact with inside St. Joe's Chelsea's inpatient rehab unit and what training do they have?

A: All of our patients are seen by a Board-certified rehabilitation physician (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation), around-the-clock nursing, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, rehabilitation neuropsychologists, recreational therapists, social work and care management. For our patients requiring specialty braces or wheelchairs, we also have staff available to fit the patient for whichever device they may need.

Q: There has been significant growth to St. Joe Chelsea's inpatient rehab unit. Can you tell us about this?
A: St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea has expanded its Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit from 6 to 24 beds, underscoring a belief that these services are needed in our community. St. Joe Chelsea has invested in various specialty therapy equipment, additional staff and a number of facility improvements.

Q: Why did you choose Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation as your specialty?

A: Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation is often referred to as the 'quality of life' specialty, meaning our focus is on improving a patient’s quality of life after catastrophic injury or illness. What appeals to me is the team-based approach to improving a patient’s functional independence to allow them to feed, dress, bathe or walk again. It is very rewarding when you meet a patient that is struggling, and are able to discharge them home with improved function and independence.

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