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Frequently Asked Questions About the Donley CenterQuestions

Click on each question to show the answer.

1. What is the Donley Center?
The Donley Center is a unit within the Department of Labor and Training. Our existence comes under the Workers' Compensation Act. We are a State agency created to provide services to injured workers in the Workers' Compensation system
2. Who is eligible for Donley Center services?
Any injured worker who has a Rhode Island Workers' Compensation claim is eligible for our services free of charge. We provide a comprehensive group of rehabilitation services that extend well beyond physical reconditioning.
3. Do I need approval from my insurance company?
No. Treatment from the Donley Center is rendered upon receiving a referral from the injured worker's attending physician.
4. How do I get started?
Talk with your doctor about sending us a referral for treatment. Once we receive it, we will contact you with an appointment.
5. What if my case is contested?
If your case is denied and you are appealing the decision, you are still eligible for services at the Center.
6. Do you release me back to work?
No. Your physician will decide when you are ready to return to work. He/she will look to us for recommendations.
7. I have physical therapy now. What makes your facility different?
Our facility is unique in that we are solely dedicated to providing services for injured workers conveniently under one roof. We have physical/occupational therapy, aquatic therapy, work hardening, vocational counseling, and psychological counseling. In addition, we have case managers who oversee coordinating your care. We specialize in helping patients who have had a difficult time recovering and who suffer from chronic pain.
8. Do you have doctors who will take over my care?
No. We have a physician on staff who will consult on secondary medical conditions such as high blood pressure or respiratory conditions that may need monitoring during your therapy at the Center. We will consult with your primary care doctor in these cases.
9. What is work hardening?
We have an area of therapy where we simulate the practical demands of your job. We can practice all types of lifting, climbing, pushing, pulling, etc. This helps you, along with your therapist and your doctor, decide when you are capable of returning to work.
10. I do not know how to swim. Would aquatic therapy help me?
You do not have to be a swimmer to have aquatic therapy. Our pool is less than five feet deep. Most of the work done in the pool is therapeutic exercise, and staff is always present. Swimming instruction is available as an option for anyone interested, as swimming is an excellent form of exercise.
11. How long can I continue to come to the Center?
Each individual case is unique. You are enrolled for as long as we think is necessary to help you recover. The typical treatment program takes approximately eight weeks to complete.
12. Will interpreters be provided, or can I bring my own family member or friend?
It is not necessary for you to bring your own interpreter to the Donley Center. It is the Donley Center policy to provide interpreters for all non-English-speaking clients.
13. How long is the first-day appointment? How long does a physical therapy appointment take?
The first appointment is typically two to three hours long. You will have an interview with a registered nurse followed by an evaluation from a physical therapist in this appointment.

The physical therapist will set your schedule based on your needs. The length of time you will spend at the Center will depend on what you participate in.
14. Can anyone take the computer classes?
Computer classes are available to all clients. Preference is given to those individuals participating in an active vocational counseling job search program here.
15. What is the difference between work hardening and physical therapy?
Physical therapy is provided in a therapy/gym setting and concentrates on improving functional range of motion, strength and flexibility through various stretches, exercises and/or modalities such as ultrasound.

Work hardening is conducted in a specialized work simulation environment, re-creating the actual work demands: lifting, pushing, climbing, etc. with the goal of reconditioning the injured worker - similar to conditioning a recovering athlete to return to "game" conditions.
16. What is the Pain Management Workshop?
We have some strategies that are effective in helping you manage your pain. It is possible for you to train your system not to feel the pain as much as you do now. This enables you to be more functional despite the experience of pain. We can help you do this. For more information about our Pain Management workshop, click here
17. What is Stress Management Workshop?
Injured workers face a significant amount of stress including financial problems, frustration over the inability to undertake activities as before the injury, and changes in relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Unmanaged stress can lead to feelings of tension, anxiety, and depression. The Stress Management Workshop aims to help you change your reactions to stress so that you function better physically and mentally. For more information about our Stress Management Workshop, click here.
18. What is the Anger Management Workshop?
The goal of the Anger Management Workshop is to help you understand how anger affects us, identify anger triggers and learn strategies to deal with anger. For more information about our Anger Management Workshop, click here.
19. What are Functional Capacity Evaluations?
Some injured workers are referred to the Donley Center for a special test called a Functional Capacity Evaluation or FCE for short. FCE's are a very common form of specialized physical testing performed to help a doctor determine a patient's physical capabilities, the best course of treatment and, most importantly, the ability to return to work (RTW). It is several hours long and consists of 4 parts. For more information on FCE's, click here
20. Who is eligible for vocational services?
You are eligible if you have a work-related injury or illness, which prevents you from returning to work with your employer, and you are currently receiving, or have filed to receive, Workers’ Compensation benefits.
21. How can I get vocational services?
When vocational rehabilitation is needed, the employer or insurance carrier is encouraged to voluntarily provide this service. They might have a vocational counselor contact you or they might ask you to go to the Dr. John E. Donley Rehabilitation Center. If you wish to initiate a request for vocational services, contact the Donley Center Vocational Rehabilitation Unit to schedule an appointment with a counselor. Sometimes the Workers’ Compensation Court may order vocational services, or your attorney may request them.
22. What if I want to be retrained?
Vocational rehabilitation does not always involve retraining. If and when retraining takes place depends on the particular circumstances of the case. Factors such as your pre-injury earnings, transferable skills, capabilities, and the results of your efforts to find employment determine whether retraining is needed. Further evaluation may reveal how extensive retraining must be. Job retraining includes: on-the-job training where you may be paid as you learn, with the possibility of continuing with that employer in the position, and short-term classroom training, ranging from a few months to a year that focuses on a specific work skill followed by a job search.

NOTE: Workers’ Compensation Law does not guarantee retraining. It may be the best solution for your eventual return to work, but the best way to determine this is to work closely with your vocational provider, who will be responsible for making recommendations for vocational services.
23. What if I return to a lower paying job?
The Rhode Island Workers' Compensation law provides for a partial, adjusted compensation payment, if you remain disabled, and you return to work at a wage that is less than what you were earning at the time of your injury.

The Education Unit can help you determine the amount of payment you should receive and for how long you are entitled to receive the partial benefit. You can contact the Education Unit at (401) 462-8100 option 1 or
24. How are vocational goals determined?
The law ensures your right to be restored as nearly as possible to your pre-injury status. Therefore, the first priority is to return you to your former job or a similar job with that employer, at your former rate of pay. If the employer, after making every effort, cannot re-employ you, placement with a new employer is the next step. The services of a vocational expert are especially necessary at this time. If direct job placement or on-the-job training cannot be achieved, skills enhancement may be the next alternative. The services you receive will depend on your individual needs, with a return to work as the ultimate goal.
25. What do I wear to my appointment?
Clothing that allows a thorough examination of your injury while preserving your modesty should be worn or brought to change into here. Examples include tank tops, sports bra or camisoles for neck, upper back or shoulder injuries; shorts or bathing suit for lower back, hip or leg injuries. Loose-fitting pants or shorts, a loose-fitting shirt, and sneakers, flat shoes or work boots should also be worn or brought for the functional part of the injury evaluation process. For your safety, please do not wear open-backed or open-toed shoes.
26. What should I bring with me to my first appointment?
Please be sure to bring a photo ID, preferably a state-issued license or ID card. In addition, please bring the Patient Information data form that will have been included with your first appointment letter sent to you from the Donley Center. Be sure to bring any medical items you routinely use, such as an inhaler if you have asthma. Also, if you have current medical information that applies to your injury, please bring a copy of that with you, or have your doctor mail or fax this to the Donley Center ahead of your appointment. Please do not bring X-Rays, MRI or CT Scan films.


RI Department of Labor and Training
Workers' Compensation
Center General Complex
1511 Pontiac Avenue, Cranston, RI 02920

Phone: (401) 462-8100
Fax (401) 462-8105
TTY via RI Relay: 711
6/24/14 MDF
State Seal
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