News, Stories & More

15Year Spotlight – 2010 – Doreen Hand

Doreen Hand

15 Year Spotlight – 2010 – Doreen Hand

To celebrate Vista’s 15th anniversary, we are shining a spotlight on someone who started his or her employment with Vista across each of the 15 years.

2010 – Doreen Hand

In 2010, The Vista School was located on Cocoa Avenue in Hershey, just across the road from a Giant Food Store. One fall day, Doreen Hand stopped in to buy groceries for her family and observed a handful of employees teaching students with special needs to shop for items on their lists.

After taking note of the blue and yellow company badges, she approached the Special Education Teacher to find out whether Vista had any part-time openings. As it turns out, we had just started looking for the organization’s first part-time Physical Therapist.

With an undergraduate degree in sociology from Franklin & Marshall College and a master’s degree in physical therapy from Temple University, Doreen’s timing for this casual encounter was remarkable. She had previously worked for Schreiber Pediatrics, Outpatient Rehabilitation Centers, and Spinal Cord Injury Centers as a licensed Physical Therapist in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, before formally beginning her employment with Vista on November 15, 2010.

What is Physical Therapy like at Vista?

“Gross motor involves function and movement of the big muscles – so things like stairs, balancing, stability, walking, etc. Because Vista focuses so much on critical life skills, like dressing and toileting, I can fulfill a much bigger role here than I could in a typical school district. I evaluate, ‘Can the student get up and down a flight of stairs safely? Can they balance long enough to be able to put their leg in a pant leg?’ I was never overwhelmed by the autism diagnosis. I really push the students to their limits, and they amaze me every day with what they show me they can do.”

A modest Doreen was also an instrumental partner in Vista successfully receiving grant dollars from Highmark Blue Shield to study fitness routines in the autism population. Focusing on the gains or changes that are possible by introducing a consistent model of exercise has motivated everyone on campus to include student movement as a daily activity.

What has made you stay so long?

Once of the things Doreen loves most about Vista is being a part of collaboration on a regular basis. From teaming with parents, to consultants, to physicians – she enjoys having the freedom to be creative with what it takes to help students to be successful.

“There is such a blurry line here between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy, which I love. That means I get to work closely with the Occupational Therapists, and we can team up together to benefit the students. I really rely on the Behavior Technicians too, because they know the behavior treatment plans and can tell me how to best reinforce the students during our sessions. I get to see the gamut of how things are done from the youngest classrooms to the oldest, so I can learn something from one classroom and bring it to another.”

Doreen, what a tremendous gift you have given us with the talents and skills you bring in your area of expertise! We couldn’t be more proud and thankful to have you as Vista’s first and only Physical Therapist!