NINE DECADES OF THERAPY
As the Turn Center celebrates its 90th year, the nonprofit finds itself settling into a new building while also taking important steps toward its future.
The organization was founded in 1931 and has since been known by a variety of names. It became the Turn Center in 2010 after the Amarillo Speech, Hearing and Language Center merged with the Children’s Rehabilitation Center. Today, it provides comprehensive therapy services for children with special needs. “This is a big year,” says Callie Holton, the Turn Center’s director of communications. “We feel like that shows the legacy of both the need and the support in the Panhandle.”
With a total staff of 53 employees—including 37 therapists—the organization serves children in all 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle. The most recent fiscal year saw more than 16,000 outpatient therapy visits to address 200 different diagnoses, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and more. The Turn Center is the only nonprofit in this area that provides physical, occupational and speech therapy under the same roof.
That roof is mostly new, thanks to a successful capital expansion project. Outpatient visits nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016, so earlier this year, the organization opened a 24,000-square-foot facility at 1250 Wallace Boulevard. “We nearly doubled our square footage,” says Holton. “We added treatment and consultation spaces and expanded and remodeled our lobby and waiting areas.” The construction project also added a full-size gymnasium, indoor play space, and functional living apartment. “We finally have a space that’s more befitting our population,” Holton says.
Construction was already underway when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “The need for more space obviously became that much more important [during the pandemic],” Holton says. But a need for space wasn’t the only COVID-induced change.
After closing its doors in March 2020, the Turn Center implemented telehealth services so therapists could continue their work. “Within a week, we were up and running again with HIPAA-compliant software, which our therapists taught themselves to use,” says Holton. “We are still using it when kiddos are sick or have a travel issue. Far beyond the pandemic, telehealth will have a far-reaching impact.”
The organization is also in the process of hiring a new executive director this fall. “We’re not rushing into it. It’s such a big job, such an interesting little niche of health care-meets-nonprofit. You want someone with a heart for children with special needs, who can also run a big organization,” Holton says. Learn more at turncenter.org.