Rehab hospital welcomes patients in Middletown

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Matt Gooch, HealthSouth’s local CEO.

By Kathy Canavan

The new HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Middletown will accept its first patient this week, and HealthSouth’s presence in Delaware could grow quickly if the company determines there is a need for home health care, hospice care or pediatric care.

HealthSouth, with 106 hospitals in 28 states, is in the process of acquiring Encompass, operator of more than 100 home-health, pediatric and hospice branches across the country. HealthSouth spokeswoman Casey Lassiter said there are no current plans to expand any services, but her company’s acquisition of Encompass might lead to other opportunities to serve Middletown-area residents.

“We do not have any definitive plans right now. Of course, we’re always evaluating opportunities,” Lassiter said.

The HealthSouth tract on East Hampden Road is large enough to accommodate expansion, she said.

The new 34-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital, located about three miles from Christiana Care Family Medicine at Middletown, is a full-service rehabilitation facility offering physical, speech, occupational and respiration therapies.

Administrative Supervisor Liz Kellam said the 48,155-square-foot hospital will employ 57 nurses, therapists and auxiliary staff at opening, mostly full time, and that number will grow as the patient census does.

The first patients will come from area acute-care hospitals or be referred by their physicians for rehabilitation. The criteria for inpatient therapy is that the patient should be able to do about three hours of therapy a day, often a mix of physical, occupational and speech therapies, she said.

“We’re very excited to be in the Middletown community and serving the patient population in Delaware, and I think patients will be happy to come to a brand-new facility,” Kellam said.

Approval for the HealthSouth facility at 250 E. Hampden Road was at the center of a long and fractious political battle between Gov. Jack Markell and the Delaware Health Resources Board, one that led not only to Markell replacing longtime members of the board but also to HealthSouth’s local CEO, Matt Gooch, appearing in election ads for Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, thanking her for passing legislation “clearing away years of legal and regulatory wrangling.”

Christiana Care spokesman Hiran Ratnayake did not comment specifically on the hospital system’s plans in Middletown. “We have a lot of different services we offer right now, and we can’t really speculate on what’s going to happen years from now,” he said.

Christiana Care now offers several services in Middletown: the freestanding Middletown Emergency Department, Middletown Family Medicine, the Glasgow Medical Aid Unit, the Middletown CareCenter, and other services that reach out to patients in all locales, such as Christiana Care’s Visiting Nurse Association and its Bridging the Divides program.

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