As the complex spectrum of Parkinson’s Disease becomes more studied and understood, the need for specialized facilities has increased. Likewise, existing facilities have been able to increase their levels and sophistication of care to offer treatment, therapy, and rehabilitation on an individualized basis as study of the disease increases.

One such facility has made strides in Parkinson’s treatment, resulting in it becoming the first, and so far only, Certified Parkinson’s Disease Care (CPDC) Facility in the State of New York.

Oasis Rehabilitation and Nursing’s certification is “exclusively offered to sub-acute hospitals, retirement, assisted living, dementia care, hospice, home health, and skilled rehab and nursing facilities.” Oasis is just one of nine facilities in the nation that is CPDC-certified.

Oasis operates under Paragon Healthcare, a consultant and service provider in rare disease care, speciality pharmaceuticals, and other unique healthcare services. Paragon has eleven skilled nursing facilities that each specialize in different areas, such as amputations, diabetics, or cardiopulmonary rehab.

Located at 6 Frowein Road in Center Moriches, Oasis held its ribbon-cutting last Thursday and offered media to take a look at the facility and witness just a few of the physical therapy sessions tailored specifically to their patients.

The Messenger received an inside perspective from two of the leaders at Oasis, Sherry Vigliotti, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant/Licensed (COTA/L), Parkinson’s Disease Program Director at Oasis Rehabilitation and Nursing, and Andrea Serie, Administrator for Oasis Rehabilitation and Nursing.

Vigliotti brings twenty-seven years of healthcare experience to the table. From running a separate dementia unit to now running Oasis for two-and-half years, she is handily experienced in the world of cognitive and motor diseases. Serie brings thirty years of social work, nursing home, and nursing administration experience to Oasis.

“We discovered that there was a need in the community to treat people afflicted with Parkinson’s and movement disorders,” Vigliotti told The Messenger. “There’s no sub-acute rehab that specializes in treating those people, so we decided that we would educate ourselves and our therapists, and we are now a certified Parkinson’s disease care facility. We offer specific treatments and modalities to work with people afflicted with Parkinson’s and movement disorders. We have special therapeutic devices that we use to help our patients.”

Most of the patients stay at the facility short-term, with the goal being “to get them to safely return to the community so that they can live independently or as independently as possible in the community,” says Vigliotti.

“What separates Oasis from other rehab facilities is that our professionals work to provide every patient with a personalized treatment plan catered to their specific needs,” says Serie. “Our dedicated staff stay up to date on the latest research, technology, treatment strategies and medications, offering the highest level of care in the State.”

Vigliotti also says that Oasis has a comprehensive team of medical doctors, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Oasis also has a rehabilitation department, which consists of occupational and physical therapists, speech therapists, and certified occupational therapy assistants. Additionally, Oasis has a social work team and a dietary team that work with the patients.

All staff members at Oasis are LSVT-BIG and LSVT-LOUD-certified. LSVT-BIG is Lee Silverman Voice Treatment-BIG Therapy, which, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), is a “special training program aiming at an increase of movement amplitudes in persons with Parkinson’s.” Therapists work with patients to increase limb and body movement, bringing the phrase “get big” into play.

LSVT-LOUD is Lee Silverman Voice Treatment therapy, which the NIH says is an “intensive four-week program of voice therapy, regarded as the most well-researched, efficacious treatment for hypokinetic dysarthria in individuals with Parkinson’s.”

Hypokinetic dysarthria is characterized by “varying degrees of reduced pitch variation, reduced loudness, breathy voice, imprecise consonants, variable speaking rate, and short rushes of speech,” according to the NIH. The LSVT programs are named for Lee Silverman, a Parkinson’s patient for and around whom the programs were developed in the 1980s.

Vigliotti explains that treating Parkinson’s is far from a perfect science and that a treatment that works for one patient might not work for another, if anyone else.


“Parkinson’s is very unique to the person in terms of symptoms,” says Vigliotti. “If you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s, you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s. They all have different symptoms, motor and non-motor, and the symptoms you can’t see. The progression is different with everyone as well. The medications that work for one person may not work for another person; it’s not textbook.”
Vigliotti explains that balance and coordination are the major struggles for many Parkinson’s patients.

“The somatosensory system is compromised, so when a patient is suddenly no longer able to walk, I can sit with them and explain to them what’s going on,” says Vigliotti. “The light bulb goes off in their head because they understand it’s all related to Parkinson’s. It’s not just all these little things happening to them. I have a book called Every Victory Counts, and when a patient encounters certain things, I’ll highlight them, have the patient read it and then sit with their family, explain what we’re finding, and then give them strategies so that they can work through it.”

Vigliotti also says that generic therapeutic modalities do not work with Parkinson’s patients, in that their therapy is vastly different from what a patient with a hip replacement or knee replacement might need.

Vigliotti says that bradyphrenia, slowness of thought, is a common symptom of Parkinson’s. She says that Oasis teaches patients who are shuffling or experience slowness of thought to “move big and think big,” core tenets of LSVT-BIG and LSVT-LOUD.

Most importantly, Vigliotti says that treatment is one-on-one.

“We have a small room where we do one-on-one treatment. I call it the non-judgment zone,” says Vigliotti. “Some days, I have a patient who is frustrated because there’s fluctuations in their treatment and symptoms. They have good days and bad days, on and off periods with the medicine. One patient said she just wanted to scream, so I said ‘all right, let’s go do it in the courtyard.’ And we screamed on top of our lungs and then she felt better. The next day she may want to exercise and punch the punching bag because she’s feeling well. You have to meet them where they are.”

Oasis’ team is comprehensive, with even housekeepers being trained to detect symptoms or new episodes, such as new hallucinations, in patients and report to the medical staff.

Vigliotti says that Parkinson’s is projected to grow among the general public, necessitating the need for additional facilities like Oasis. Vigliotti also says that about 85% of Parkinson’s cases are due to environmental factors, while 15% is due to genetics.

“There’s more people diagnosed with Parkinson’s that we have the ability to treat,” says Vigliotti. “The doctors are inundated. Some of the doctors are actually booking consults six months out.”

Vigliotti says that actor Michael J. Fox helps with research on Parkinson’s. The facility in Center Moriches is close to Fox’s residence in Quogue.

One of the programs that Oasis offers is Rock Steady Boxing, which has proven to help with balance and coordination.
The Messenger saw a patient in action, doing a round of exercises in the gym. Lights are strapped to a punching bag that can light up with different colors. One exercise had a patient punch the blue lights with his left hand and the red lights with his right hand to improve quick-thinking, reflexes, and motor control.

Another exercise consisted of an obstacle course, requiring a patient to weave between objects to improve balance and coordination, as, according to Vigliotti, rounding corners and making sharp turns are often greatly compromised by Parkinson’s.

To celebrate the first-in-the-state certification, Oasis held a ribbon-cutting after the tour, with Suffolk County Legislator Jim Mazzarella (R-Moriches) and a representative for Senator Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) in attendance.

Oasis has one hundred beds and 225 staff members. Oasis also has therapeutic recreation and entertainment throughout the day, as well as other amenities, such as an onsite bakery and manicurist.

Oasis Rehabilitation and Nursing is located at 6 Frowein Road in Center Moriches. For more information about Oasis their Parkinson’s Disease Program, please visit, https://oasisrehabandnursing.com/parkinsons/

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Matt Meduri serves as the Editor in Chief of the Messenger Papers and writer of America the Beautiful and This Week Today columns. As a graduate of St. Joseph's University, Matt has been working in the political journalism field for over 5 years. He is a multi-instrumentalist, enjoys cooking and writing his own recipes, and traveling throughout the United States including Guam.