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Hayes Physical Therapy

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Hayes Physical Therapy at its new location at Schoolhouse Square Shopping Center in East Setauket.

An East Setauket business proves that people somehow manage to emerge from the ashes of tragedy.

A year after a fire ripped through one of the buildings that makes up the Setauket Commons at 60 Route 25A, Hayes Physical Therapy is still operating from a storefront down the road in the Schoolhouse Square Shopping Center.

Anne McLaughlin, president of Hayes Physical Therapy, said she didn’t expect the move to be as seamless as it was, and the business, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, has grown in its new location.

“It’s a good spot,” McLaughlin said. “We have fantastic neighbors. It seems like we have even better visibility here. It’s actually working out better than we could have hoped.”

McLaughlin, who bought the business in 2009, said the office operated out of the Setauket Commons building since 2004. She, along with other tenants, including Brookhaven Cat Hospital, were forced to close down after the Oct. 7, 2018, fire.  The incident, which took more than two hours to control, according to Setauket Fire Department, left smoke and water damage in its wake.

After the fire, the business owner, who lives in Bay Shore, said she made house calls when possible and referred some patients to colleagues in the surrounding area. When the physical therapy office was able to reopen in its new location in February, all the employees returned, and the business currently has three therapists and five support associates, and recently, they have taken on an intern.

McLaughlin and her employees reached out to former patients as best as they could through phone calls and ads, while other people have found them while patronizing other stores in the shopping center. She said she is grateful that many of her patients have returned for treatment.

A recent fire at Mario’s, located in the same shopping center, she said affected her.

“That sends a nasty chill coming in and seeing fire trucks in the parking lot again,” she said. “We’re wishing them the best. That’s been a horrible drain on the whole community.”

After the ordeal, McLaughlin said she would advise anyone who goes through a similar tragedy to consult those who are experts in dealing with such things, crediting her team of lawyers and insurance professionals with giving her valuable advice.

“I was able to rely on advice from other professionals to really guide me through completely unnavigable waters,” she said. “I didn’t know one thing about how to pick up the pieces after something so horrific. Thankfully there are a lot of people who know more about that than I do. I trusted them and I was very fortunate.”

McLaughlin said she also credits members of the surrounding community who bolstered her spirits by keeping in touch and asking her when she was going to reopen.

“It’s a matter of fortitude,” she said. “It’s really just not giving up and not getting disgusted. It can be very frustrating. You reach the outer depths of whatever frustration you thought you could handle, and you buckle up and keep going.”

The former home of Brookhaven Cat Hospital is being renovated after an Oct. 7 fire destroyed the interior. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Three months after a fire engulfed one of the buildings that makes up the Setauket Commons former tenants are embarking on new paths.

Business were forced to close after a fire ripped through 60 Route 25A in Setauket, the night of Oct. 7. The fire took more than two hours to control, according to Setauket Fire Department, leaving smoke and water damage in its wake.

Veterinarian Dr. Anthony Nanton, owner of Brookhaven Cat Hospital, has been working at Paumanok Veterinary Hospital in Patchogue since the end of November. The Stony Brook resident said when he arrived on the scene Oct. 7 smoke was pouring out of the building. It’s still difficult for him to talk about that night.

“It was quite traumatic,” he said.

Nanton said three resident cats died in the fire from what appeared to be smoke inhalation. The animal hospital was the felines’ home since 2003 when it was located in Coram.

“They were like my children,” the veterinarian said.

While Nanton will now work out of Patchogue, Anne McLaughlin, president of Hayes Physical Therapy, said she and her staff will remain in Setauket. The business has operated out of the Setauket Commons since 2004 and McLaughlin bought the company in 2009.

Since the fire, McLaughlin has made house calls when she can and referred patients to her colleagues in the surrounding area.

McLaughlin said she signed a new lease Jan. 11, and Hayes Physical Therapy will be moving to the same shopping center as Mario’s Italian Restaurant — Heritage Corners East — in the storefront of the former music store. She is hoping to reopen within the next couple of weeks.

“There was no question that I was going to stay in the Three Village area,” she said. “It was just a matter of finding a suitable location.”

The employees of Advanced Research Media, which had an office in the building for 2 1/2 years, are now working remotely from their homes, according to the company’s vice president Elyse Blechman. The owners of Healing Massage could not be reached by this publication’s press time.