ARH to close in-patient rehab

Published 12:05 am Friday, September 23, 2011

ARH will most likely close its in-patient rehab in the coming months. | File photo

Andalusia Regional Hospital will likely close its in-patient rehab unit in the next few months, and if it does, will add either PET scanning or a wound care clinic to its local services.

Hospital CEO Mark Dooley said this week that the hospital has been exploring the possibility of selling its rehab beds to HealthSouth. Last week, HealthSouth filed a letter of intent with the state Health Planning and Development Agency stating its plans to purchase and relocate ARH’s 12 rehab beds.

Dooley said use of the rehab unit has declined because of changes in Medicare reimbursements.

“”When we opened the unit in 2004, the largest need was in the orthopedic area,” Dooley said. “Over time, changes in Medicare admissions criteria have greatly limited the number of orthopedic patients who qualify for rehabilitation services.”

Dooley said orthopedic patients insured by Medicare are only admitted to in-patient rehab now “if there are a whole lot of other issues,” and 95 percent of the patients once served by this facility were Medicare patients.

Even if there are only three or four patients in the facility each day, the hospital still must have two nurses around the clock, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist, as well as a project director.

“When you have to cover that amount of staffing, it’s tough to do it efficiently,” he said.

Thirty days after HealthSouth’s original letter of intent, it will apply for a certificate of need to reassign and relocate the beds.

“If there is no opposition, it will probably take 90 days for the process to be completed,” Dooley said.

Dooley said if the proposal goes through, any staff who can be placed elsewhere in the hospital will be.

If the hospital pursues a wound care clinic, much of the work will likely be with diabetic wounds, he said, adding that the hospital would likely seek a partner to provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy.