published Sunday, April 14th, 2013

HealthSouth revamps, expands McCallie Avenue facility (with video)

Chattanooga's Health South rehab hospital set for opening
After a yearlong expansion and renovation, Chattanooga's Health South rehabilitation hospital is ready to open for patients. The facility, located on McCallie Avenue near Parkridge Hospital, will feature 50 new beds as well as a day room and renovated dining area.
Physical therapist Jessica Wingo works with a patient at HealthSouth Chattanooga Rehabilitation Hospital. HealthSouth recently completed a 27,100-square-foot addition that is expected to open this week.
Physical therapist Jessica Wingo works with a patient at HealthSouth Chattanooga Rehabilitation Hospital. HealthSouth recently completed a 27,100-square-foot addition that is expected to open this week.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
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    A new private patient room has been decorated.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

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    A nurse's station in a new wing of HealthSouth Chattanooga Rehabilitation Hospital.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

About HealthSouth

Headquarters: Birmingham, Ala.

Facilities: 101 inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, 24 outpatient rehabilitation satellite clinics and 25 hospital-based home health agencies located in 28 states

Staff: 22,000 employees

Tennessee locations: Seven rehabilitation hospitals

Revenues: $2.2 billion in 2012 with 123,854 inpatient discharges and 880,182 outpatient visits.

CEO: Jay Grinney

Web site: www.healthsouth.com.

About HealthSouth Chattanooga

Location: 2412 McCallie Ave.

Size: 52,000 square feet

What's new: New patient wing with 30 private and 20 semi-private rooms

Staff: 170 employees

Distinction: Only local hospital certified by The Joint Commission for stroke rehabilitation care

CEO: Scott Rowe

Web site: www.healthsouthchattanooga.com

Chattanooga's oldest rehabilitation hospital has gotten its own rehab over the past year with a $12.5 million upgrade and expansion.

HealthSouth Chattanooga plans to begin using its new wing this week after patients are wheeled down the hall into the new and bigger patient rooms built on what was previously the hospital's parking area. The new complex, which was added on to the east side of the existing hospital, will replace the second-story patient rooms in the current hospital, which dates back to when Hospital Corp. of America built its Diagnostic Hospital in 1969.

"We've been talking for years about building a new upgraded facility, and we're excited to see it coming to completion," said Scott Rowe, a 16-year manager with HealthSouth who has headed the Chattanooga hospital since 2007. "Our new L-shaped patient wing is based on the template that HealthSouth has used for a lot of their other new hospitals, and that construction seemed to work well to provide efficient care with one central nursing station."

In the continuum of health care, hospitals such as HealthSouth are usually the second stop in the road to recovery from a stroke, disabling injury or major orthopedic surgery. After trauma care and surgery at an acute care hospital, many patients continue their recovery at HealthSouth or other rehab hospitals. The average length of a hospital stay at HealthSouth is 12 to 14 days.

The new complex will have 50 new beds, including 30 private patient rooms and four rooms devoted to bariatric care for obese patients.

"This new facility is built as a rehabilitation facility with all of its handicap accessible features right from the start," said Dr. Amjad M. Munir, medical director for HealthSouth Chattanooga. "The rooms are larger to accommodate more activity and options of care."

Most of the work involved building a new hospital wing by realigning the layout of the McCallie Avenue complex, which dates back to 1960 when a 6,140-square-foot medical office was built on the site.

The renovation required the former medical complex, later developed into Diagnostic Hospital, to be largely torn down to open up parking. After the 21,350-square-foot portion of the former Diagnostic Hospital was removed, a 25,895-square-foot patient wing was built on what was the former parking lot.

Mixing new and old

Patients who are now housed on the second floor of Healthsouth Chattanooga are scheduled to move into the patient wing this week. The second floor will then be converted to a regional office and billing area for HealthSouth facilities across Tennessee.

With rooftop windows and high ceilings, natural light floods into the central area where patients enter and where nurses and other caregivers are stationed.

"This provides a much brighter and cheerful atmosphere for our patients and employees," Rowe said.

The first floor gym and therapy area also have been renovated and expanded over the past year even while the hospital has continued to operate.

A kitchen, bathroom and residential area have been added for patients to learn how to navigate and take care of themselves in a home environment. After a couple of weeks of inpatient rehab, most of HealthSouth's patients are discharged and return to their home.

"We try as much as possible to get people ready for daily living on their own or in their own home with the help of other family members or caregivers," Rowe said.

Rowe said HealthSouth looked at relocating the hospital to Ooltewah or another part of town, "but we just felt like we needed to stay in a central location close to the region's three main acute-care hospitals (Erlanger, Memorial and Parkridge)."

Growing demand

Despite recent cuts in Medicare reimbursements from the budget sequestration, Rowe said he is optimistic about the future. Rehabilitation hospitals such as HealthSouth have the lowest rates of sending patients back for readmission to acute-care hospitals among other alternatives, such as nursing homes or home health care. That gives rehabilitation hospitals an edge under new payment systems that pay hospitals based upon reducing their readmission rates for their patients.

In its certificate of need request filed with the state last year, HealthSouth projected its average net charge for patients would be $1,136 per day.

"That's more expensive than nursing homes or home health care, but it's much cheaper than having patients go back to acute-care hospitals that charge even more," Rowe said.

The demand for rehabilitation services also is growing along with the graying of America. Every day for the next 18 years, 10,000 baby boomers in America will reach age 65, and the fastest growing demographic age group in the country is the age category among people over age 90. Seniors are most apt to need rehabilitation services after strokes and falls.

HealthSouth Chattanooga is licensed to operate 80 beds, but it has staffed only 46 in the existing hospital and will expand that to 50 when the new wing begins operation.

The other inpatient rehabilitation hospitals in Chattanooga are the Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation, which staffs 51 beds and had an average occupancy in 2010 of 92 percent, and Parkridge Medical Center, which staffs 12 beds and had an average occupancy in 2010 of 70 percent, according to filings with the Tennessee Health Services Development Agency. HealthSouth Chattanooga reported an average occupancy of 77.2 percent.

City Park planned

Rowe said the new hospital is part of efforts to improve the Highland Park and Glenwood area. Once work is completed on the hospital renovation and patient relocation, Rowe said HealthSouth will develop and donate to the city a lot along Duncan Street for a community park.

"We want to create something that the community can use and to develop a park to celebrate people overcoming disabilities," he said. "With the Boys and Girls clubs being right across the street, we see an opportunity to partner with them about different programs we can develop."

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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