Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital Opens New Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit
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Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital Opens New Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit 

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Virginia Beach, Virginia – April 21, 2008 - Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital recently expanded services by opening the city’s first inpatient rehabilitation facility. The 8-bed unit, led by specially trained physicians and staff, means patients admitted to the hospital needing 24-hour care coupled with concentrated therapy will benefit from the expanded services at the hospital.

For Sentara’s first patient on the unit, opening day was timely and made all the difference.

“Without the intense therapy I received, I’d be in a nursing home right now—no doubt about it,” says 62-year-old boating enthusiast Jerry Smith of Virginia Beach, who came to the unit following surgery to remove two tumors pressing on his spine.

“Patients like Mr. Smith are exactly the reason we are offering inpatient rehab at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital,” says Jimmy W. Spelts, RN, team coordinator of the hospital’s rehabilitation unit.

“Before adding this service, patients were faced with the tough decision of seeking inpatient care in another city or getting much less intense therapy than would be ideal for them. For Mr. Smith, it’s made all the difference,” Spelts continued.

“I can’t say enough about the PT I received. To be honest, I didn’t believe it would work. But every day, after three hours of rehab, I could feel some subtle differences in my legs,” Smith said. “Walking with this walker is just the start for me—it’s remarkable. I know I’ll go boating again. I feel so lucky” Smith said. 

A board certified physiatrist serves as medical director of the inpatient rehabilitation unit and leads the specialized team which expects to see about 140 patients in 2008. Designed to replicate environments and situations likely encountered at home, the unit is equipped with a kitchen and bathroom to help patients relearn a variety of skills.

“Our patients need the intensity of therapy we can offer with registered rehabilitation nurses and specially trained staff,” says Kurt Hofelich, Vice President of Sentara Rehabilitation Network.
“Our primary goal is to help prepare patients for daily living so they can return to their productive lives and regain independence.”

Research shows providing realistic settings for retraining has proven most effective in increasing patient’s functional skill. Exceeding national benchmarks, Sentara returns a full 83 percent of its rehabilitation inpatients to the community with improved function compared to the national average of 78 percent. As part of a customized therapy plan, patients practice what they’ve learned in real life settings. Not limited to the rehabilitation unit, patients are loaded onto buses escorted by physical therapists and nurses, destined for movies, grocery stores, and bowling alleys where they can practice some skills they will need before returning home.

The inpatient rehabilitation unit at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital cares for patients recovering from trauma, stroke, spinal injuries, burns, amputations, hip fractures, neurological disorders, and other conditions that have impaired independence. Services include rehabilitation medicine and nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychology, social services, recreational therapy, support groups, and patient and family education.


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