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St. Mary’s Wellness Center helps former dean heal from stroke

Thirty minutes early, one big smile and a hundred stories to tell, Don Edwards can be found at St. Mary’s Wellness Center, eagerly waiting for his session to start. The retired dean of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business suffered a stroke that began his journey with the Wellness Center. Starting in May 2014, Edwards has been working every Monday and Wednesday to improve his strength.

Don Edwards St. Mary's Wellness Center Stroke“I came here because I was looking for a place that really cares,” Edwards said. “They really followed my progress and they kept me informed on how I was doing and I like that. They have always been kind and generous and truthful and I think that is really important.”

Edwards, a 92-year-old resident of Athens, became the first J.M. Tull Professor of Accounting at The University of Georgia and is the 69th member of the Accounting Hall of Fame. Edwards knows his numbers and knew what he was looking for when he chose St. Mary’s Wellness Center.

“When you come here you come to work with people, not with numbers. I had an academic career for 40 years with numbers. It’s better to work with people, and basically the same people. They get to know your case, your strengths and weaknesses – although listing my weaknesses, the paper wasn’t long enough,” Edwards joked.

Edwards participates in the Wellness Center’s Post Rehab program, which is especially geared to people who have finished physical or occupational therapy but continue to need additional support to maximize their health. Staff are committed to improving quality of life by reducing pain and maximizing the functionality of patients with disabilities or injuries through comprehensive, individualized care.

St. Mary's Wellness Center Stroke Rehab“I have been working with him for two and a half years now,” said Harrison Nickels, exercise specialist. “Right now we’re working on his walking and building strength back.”

Over the last four-and-a-half years, Edwards has gotten to know the staff at the Wellness Center and they have gotten to know him.

“It’s his smile,” Nickels said. “Every time he comes in he has a smile on his face; he loves coming. He always shows up early. He’s fun to talk to. He has a whole bunch of stories and he’s 92, but his memory is better than mine.”

“The most important thing to do is to get into a program and stay, don’t play with it,” advised Edwards. “Come and meet your obligations.”

Wellness Center Services

In addition to the post rehab program, St. Mary’s Wellness Center offers a clean, spacious and well-equipped fitness gym that is open 24/7 to members, and a full slate of exercise classes. The center also offers a wide range of services that are available to the community and, at discounted rates, to members, including massage therapy, personal training and nutrition counseling. Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services also are provided at the Wellness Center, and outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services are provided in a connected suite next door.

“I’ve improved,” said Edwards. “I can walk more, I can sit straighter, I can pretty well manage my own, and they really answer questions that I wanted or didn’t understand and I thought that was important.”

The Wellness Center staff members are knowledgeable health and wellness professionals consisting of individuals with degrees in exercise science, kinesiology and health promotion and behavior. The staff works with patients to create a specialized fitness plans that will meet the patients’ needs and work within any medical limitations.

Body composition testing, blood pressure screening and circumference measuring are all part of the services offered to members. Most services are included in basic membership; members receive a discount for others. For information about services and programs or a tour of the Wellness Center, call 706.389.3355

St. Mary’s Wellness Center is located at 2470 Daniells Bridge Road, Building 300 Athens, Ga., 30606. For more information please visit: