Vanessa McCarthy selfie

Vanessa McCarthy, Acacia Health Center Staff

Whether a patient’s 102 years old or 16 days old, Vanessa McCarthy has worked with them all throughout her experience in healthcare. Currently, Vanessa works as the Rehabilitation Director at Acacia Health Center, helping guide patients through therapy and being able to live their life to the fullest again.

Vanessa has worked in therapy for the past 11 years after graduating from A.T. Still University. Since then, she has worked in nearly every setting an occupational therapist could work in before joining the family at Acacia.

Vanessa said she feels incredibly honored to be able to work with such a great team of therapists. One of her specialties she has taken on through her career is with veterans who are recovering from both physical and mental scars.

Vividly, Vanessa remembers one specific patient she worked closely with that suffered from severe PTSD after having served in Iraq and losing his closest brothers in arms while deployed. She felt his heartbreak by the way that he spoke of them, as if he had just lost them yesterday, knowing it had likely been more than 20 years ago.

Before COVID, Vanessa was running her own private practice working only with people with vision impairment caused by Macular degeneration and Glaucoma. She has worked in low vision for the past 5 years as a passion she developed because she believes the smallest changes can bring the greatest independence back for them.
Her private practice was contracted through a home health agency that also worked with the VA. While working with the VA, Vanessa became passionate about working with similar patients to help rebuild their foundations and begin to live their own lives again.

Yet, in her experience, some of her patients are just getting their lives started.

Another patient she’s worked with was only 16 days old when they met. The baby was born with congenital heart failure and had more than a dozen tubes entering their body to keep stabilized.

She was inspired by the way the tiny child had fought so fiercely to keep their life.

Now, Vanessa works at Acacia fighting to help build up the strength and fortitude of her new patients to come back to their lives.

“They’ve had a doctor that have either saved their lives or prolonged their lives, but therapists are the ones that help them get back to living their life to the fullest extent,” Vanessa said.

But rehab therapy wasn’t always the path she envisioned.

When Vanessa’s son required physical and developmental therapy after being born, she became familiar with therapy work. He was the reason she decided to change lanes in her career and enter rehab therapy.

Along with working hard to help others work towards their healthiest life, Vanessa has a passion for travel. She plans to take full advantage of an exploration agenda as soon as it’s deemed safe to travel again, following the pandemic. Her first trip is to visit the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California and then she plans to celebrate her son’s 18th birthday by taking him to Hawaii.