Welcome to Hotel Rehab
Today’s metro-area rehabilitation centers put the hospitality in hospital, pampering senior patients in style while offering excellent short-term care.
They have warm and welcoming lobbies, complete with fireplaces and friendly staffs. With their high ceilings, serene atmosphere and state-of-the art decor, they look more like luxury hotels than facilities designed for seniors needing short-term nursing and rehabilitation care — which is precisely the point their creators aim to make.
The biggest current buzzword in the senior rehab industry is “hospitality,” those in the know say.
Although each has their own unique personalities and style, these luxury rehab centers offer a variety of high-end amenities such as private suites, fine dining experiences, spa and salon services, wellness programming that features massage and yoga therapy, and, most importantly, state-of-the-art rehab equipment and top-notch therapists.
Within the past year or so, more and more of these VIP-treatment rehab centers have made their way into the Kansas side of the metro. With hospitals facing pressure to discharge patients earlier, these facilities offer a bridge between hospital and home. The individualized care they provide is aimed at promoting effective healing and recovery from a myriad of issues, such as stroke and hip or knee replacements, and are designed to get the patients home as fast as possible, usually within three weeks.
But why the trend on the Kansas side? It’s because Missouri is a “certificate of need” state, meaning that if someone wants to build a new rehab facility in Missouri, the state requires proof that there are enough patients to warrant building one, says Alex Silverman, community relations advisor for A Place for Mom, a free senior care-referral service.
“In Kansas, anybody can build one,” she says. “I could build one tomorrow. So that makes a lot more competition and that’s why you’re seeing this trend in those states that don’t have a certificate of need because the consumer, the patient, now has more choices. Their Medicare dollars, their insurance dollars will take them wherever they want to go. So if I want to go to someplace that’s brand- new, that has a pool and a bar and it’s just super swanky, I can go there and there’s no difference in my Medicare dollars than if I went someplace else that was 50 years old and where I have to share a room.”
But in the end, she and industry experts say, it all boils down to the quality of care provided.
“I always tell people, ‘Just because they have crystal chandeliers and they have pretty amenities, also take into consideration the fact of care,” Silverman says. “At the end of the day, when your mom is calling on her call button or has fallen down, she’s not going to care about that fireplace in the living room. She’s going to care that somebody is there to respond to her, be kind to her and be able to give her the care that she needs and deserves.’”
Randy Bloom, chief operating officer for the company that owns Stratford Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, a new $7.5 million facility at 12340 Quivira Road in Overland Park that features 41 private suites and two couple suites, couldn’t agree more.
“The environment certainly plays a role, but I’ll be honest with you, it’s the therapists,” he says while strolling the wide halls of Stratford Commons, which opened last October. “That’s the biggest driver. It’s those therapists that understand what it takes to create plans that work. That’s what gets people out.”
People like rehab specialists Pam Kirk and Paula Maddux, who, among other therapies, offer Stratford Commons patients AlterG anti-gravity treadmills that help reduce recovery time.
“It’s fun to start off in a brand-new facility where everything’s fresh and to have the opportunity to choose great equipment,” Kirk says.
Eric Gillis, vice president of new market development for The Healthcare Resort, which has three new locations on the Kansas side of the metro and one coming by the fall in Leawood, has similar thoughts and maintains that although his facilities are beautiful, what really gets him excited is that they are able to attract top talent in the community.
“When you can get the best talent in the Kansas City area and you give them the best tools to work with, there’s a lot of amazing things that can happen,” Gillis says while giving a visitor a tour of The Healthcare Resort of Shawnee Mission, 7600 Antioch Road. “One of our taglines is ‘Less Hospital, More Hospitality.’ It really is about taking out the institutionalization of health care and delivering it in a warm, amenity-based environment.”
Craig Park, administrator of Advanced Health Care of Overland Park, 4700 Indian Creek Parkway, says his facility was the first of its kind to come to the area a mere 18 months ago. The facility has 38 private rooms each with Tempur-Pedic beds and, unlike other rehab centers, is not affiliated with skilled nursing homes or independent living facilities.
The trend in luxury rehab is here to stay, he says.
“Our society’s becoming more and more specialized in almost every market,” he explains. “A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work as well these days, whether it’s in rehab like us or in other industries. The coming population has preferences and needs that are unique, and companies that are able to provide those services that people are requesting are going to be successful.”
Michael Toth, 60, a diabetic on kidney dialysis, has been a patient at Advanced Health Care three times since his right leg was amputated in October 2014 because of a MRSA infection. His third time there aimed to develop his strength.
The Olathe resident says he loves the facility so much he’d like to volunteer there when he’s able.
“Look at the room,” he says during an interview in his private suite. “It looks like a Holiday Inn. The staff here is incredible. From the aides, to the therapy, the nurses. They take me to my dialysis appointments. They take me to my doctor’s appointments. Probably the best thing about this place is the food here. It’s wonderful, and the coffee is excellent.”
Food is an important part of the quality of care at the rehab centers, which hire executive chefs or cooks with high culinary skills that offer varied and fresh fare that’s a far cry from hospital cafeteria eats.
Gillis says that at The Healthcare Resort, which also offers anti-gravity treadmills at certain locations, even gives its staff titles with a luxury-sounding feel. For example, certified nurse assistants are called guest care specialists. He echoes others in the rehab industry who say times and customers have changed.
“So these resorts were built to really take care of our aging population for the demands that we have now,” he says. “There are many wonderful nursing homes here in Kansas City that have been here in business for many, many years. We work closely with them as well. We in no way want to come in saying we’re any better than they are because they’ve been here a long time and have established roots. We hope to just add another level of care to the community.”