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New rehab unit debuts

Tom Jackson • Dec 16, 2013 at 1:50 PM

And it’s about to get better. On Dec. 29, the hospital will move into its new inpatient rehabilitation center on the fifth floor of the main hospital building, relocating from the South Campus.

   Hospital officials say the new center, which cost about $6 million, has many improvements over the old one, but the new location is itself a significant upgrade.

   The center now can handle patients who are more ill, because it’s in the same building as all of the hospital’s emergency services. At the old one, “for any type of emergency, we actually called 911” said Shenell Hinton, area director for case management and inpatient physical rehabilitation.    The center’s medical director, Dr. Christopher Parnell, said he feels more comfortable having very ill patients in the new location.

   “It will allow us to have a more medically complex type of patient” he said.

   Insurance companies typically want only the sickest patients to receive inpatient care, using outpatient procedures for everyone else, so the move fits with that trend, said Dr. Sonya Kumar, who handles physical medicine and rehabilitation for the unit.

   Firelands officials leading a press tour through the center showed off many features that the current center lacks. These include a soundproof room for speech therapy, a PT Cruiser automobile hauled up to the fifth floor so that patients can practice getting in and out of a car, and a “transitional suite,” featuring a normal bed rather than a hospital bed, so patients can test their ability to return to their own bedrooms.

   There’s also a new electronic system for tracking medication that scans the patient’s wristband. It’s been proven that such a system reduces mistakes in dispensing drugs, said Martin Tursky, the hospital’s president and CEO.

   The center has many features designed to help patients recovering from strokes and other conditions relearn how to do common household tasks. For example, it has a washer and dryer.

   “The patients actually will do their own laundry,” said Shelly Jordan, director of physical therapy and occupational therapy.

   The staff also pointed to the new center’s aesthetic features, including large color photographs of local outdoor scenes, a “water feature” that has water tricking down the wall in soothing fashion (donated by two doctors, Dr. Bo Yoo and Dr. Vicente Gasper-Yoo), translucent blue wave-like objects hanging from the ceiling (they are “suspended fusion panels,” hospital officials explain) and large, round lights next to the nurses station that change color.

   Soothing visuals have a therapeutic value, Kumar said.

   “Certain things can cause seizure activities in certain patients” she said.

   The center has beds for up to 34 patients, including 30 private rooms.

   That’s the same number as the old unit.

   Tursky said the hospital’s next big construction project will be an upgrade to the birthing center.

   “That’s the last major unit that needs to be brought up to modern day standards,” he said. “That will kick off in January”

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