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Rehab wing opens at Friends Care

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When the new $2.25 million rehabilitation wing at Friends Care Community officially opens next week, the organization will have much to celebrate. Not only did it take just 16 months from conception to completion of the 14,000-square-foot wing, the nonprofit raised $280,000 in community donations in that time to furnish it with state-of-the-art equipment and furniture.

To celebrate the new wing, Friends Care will host an open house on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 2 to 5 p.m. at its campus at 105 E. Herman Street.

The rehabilitation unit, designed for short-term stays and outpatient rehabilitation care, has 16 private rooms with bathrooms and showers, a 3,400-square-foot therapy and fitness center, an Internet cafe and dining area and a separate entrance. A physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech pathologist will work onsite with patients to recuperate from injuries, surgeries, strokes, heart attacks and other medical events.

While most of the construction costs were financed or covered by Friends Care’s financial assets, the organization raised $280,000 from its 14-member board, local foundations and individual community members to purchase equipment for the therapy room, including an ultrasound and an electrical stimulation machine, and to furnish patient rooms. The Morgan Family Foundation put up $40,000 while the Yellow Springs Community Foundation donated $30,000 after Friends Care was able to raise $170,000 in matching funds.

Providing rehabilitation services is a way for Friends Care to meet a local need and bring in additional revenue to support its 50-bed, long-term living residence unit, which costs more per patient to operate than it generates from state reimbursements, according to Friends Care Executive Director Karl Zalar. Plus as people live longer, they will experience more injuries and baby boomers will be less likely to choose a traditional nursing facility.

“The baby boomers want to stay home and it’s starting to show,” Zalar said. “So it makes sense for people to have a place to do short-term rehabilitation because it’s hard to do intensive therapy at home.”

This year the Medicaid reimbursement Friends Care receives from the State of Ohio was cut by an additional $16 per day to $162.50 whereas it costs $210 per day to care for those patients, Zalar said. By contrast the rehabilitation center will generate five percent more than it costs at an occupancy of 90 percent. That money will be reinvested in the organization, Zalar said, and likely used to renovate its long-term living residence unit, which was last updated in 2004.

The new unit also improves Friends Care’s “continuity of care,” Zalar said. On its 23-acre campus Friends Care runs a 20-bed assisted living building and 14 detached independent living units for elders.

Most rehabilitation patients come directly from the hospital and stay an average of 30 days, Zalar said. Friends Care will hire 12 additional nurse professionals and nursing assistants to work at the facility, which already employs about 100 people. And its therapy provider will also be hiring additional therapists to meet the increased volume.

The rehabilitation wing also has an Activities of Daily Living area where patients are trained to perform basic everyday tasks, like cooking, doing laundry and bathing, and using such fitness equipment as treadmills and stationary bicycles. Local art will adorn the walls in the new wing, which utilizes natural light and up-to-date furnishings.

“It’s state-of-the-art but with a homey feel,” Zalar said.

As long as the facility passes a state inspection, the wing will begin accepting patients by the end of August or early September.

Friends Care Community is a 30-year- old nonprofit organization which began as an effort by the local Friends Meeting to provide housing for villagers as they aged. Today about half of Friends Care’s residents come from or have ties to Yellow Springs. The institution currently has a four-star rating from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, putting Friends Care in the top 20 percent of such facilities in the U.S.



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