Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins goes to bat for new animal rehab center

New Jersey-based Saint Francis Veterinary Center has partnered with a big hitter to open up a new state-of-the-art animal rehabilitation center.

The AAHA-accredited animal hospital has been collaborating with Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and his wife Johari to build The Rollins Center for Animal Rehabilitation, which is scheduled to open April 20.

For Jimmy and Johari, who have been bringing their dogs into the hospital for years, the importance of rehabilitation and pain management really hit home when their oldest Akita, Kato, began battling age-related chronic ailments, said Mark F. Magazu II, president and chief executive officer at Saint Francis Veterinary Center.

It was then that the high-profile athlete and his wife raised the idea of creating a world-class rehabilitation center.

“He challenged us to conceptualize a rehabilitation center that provided animals with the same advanced care that he receives as a professional athlete,” Magazu said.

Saint Francis responded to the challenge by building a 1,000-square-foot rehabilitation center under the hospital’s roof, staffed by renowned professionals and utilizing cutting-edge technology.

Building the new rehab center and having Jimmy and Johari Rollins as teammates has Magazu excited about the impact the center will make in the community, he said.

"It's an exciting opportunity because Jimmy is a respected member of our community and our region. He and Johari are role models for so many, and their example is something we are definitely going to follow," Magazu said.

In anticipation of the opening celebration, Magazu shared additional details about the rehabilitation center with NEWStat.

Comprehensive care for patients

According to Magazu, the rehab center’s strength lies in its ability to offer a comprehensive set of services and skills to patients.

“It is a combination of technologies, services, and medical leadership that uniquely animate The Rollins Center for Animal Rehabilitation. A patient at The Rollins Center will have access to a totality of services similar to what a human would expect,” Magazu said.

The center is fully stocked with the latest technology geared toward helping animal patients rehabilitate from injuries in many of the same way that human athletes do.

“The Rollins Center will employ a comprehensive system of modalities, including hydrotherapy, therapeutic laser and ultrasound, digital gait analysis, neuromuscular electric stimulation, massage, and a host of physical exercise programs,” he said. “One particularly unique technology is a digital treadmill that captures and analyzes gait data such as stance time, symmetry, stride length, and peak pressure.”

In addition, Magazu said the rehab center features two Zen rooms where patients and clients can relax in a “fresh and friendly” atmosphere.

Dr. Caroline Garzotto will serve as director at the rehabilitation center. Garzotto is a board-certified surgeon and certified canine rehabilitation therapist, and has been a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania for nearly a decade, Magazu said.

Magazu also explained that the new rehabilitation center's focus on leveraging world-class technology and expertise is in line with Saint Francis Veterinary Center’s strong commitment to AAHA accreditation (the hospital was the 2012 runner-up for AAHA’s Practice of the Year award).

“The Rollins Center came to life because Saint Francis Veterinary Center seeks to always practice as a reflection of AAHA’s standards, and because Jimmy and Johari Rollins envisioned a rehabilitation center that would reflect their highest expectation of what this kind of service could be,” Magazu said. “Those two visions came together to form the Rollins Center, and we believe this endeavor fits perfectly together into our overall goal to be the best AAHA-accredited practice that we can be.”

Opening celebration

Saint Francis plans on making a big splash in the community when they open April 20. The opening day celebration will feature an appearance by Jimmy and Johari Rollins, as well as family events such as a Little League baseball skills competition, pet costume contest, and a visit from the Philadelphia Phillies mascot.

In addition, the hospital will host several events for visiting veterinarians, including a private coffee with Jimmy and Johari Rollins and Saint Francis staff and a continuing education luncheon.

Once the opening celebration is over and it's time to really get down to business, Magazu said he is sure his staff members - many of whom are season ticket holders - will continue to relish the chance to work in a rehab center affiliated with a local sports hero.

“I think our staff knows this is a unique opportunity and we’re definitely going to have fun with it,” Magazu said. You can’t help but smile when Jimmy and Johari are around because they have such a positive energy about them.”