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HealthSouth is a year old and planning for an expansion
Rehab technicians Ariana Kleeman and Debra Penn watch Howard Adams use a rehabilitation machine.
MIKE MORONES/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY JIM HALL
The HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Fredericksburg is a year old, yet it's nearly full, and officials there hope to add beds this spring.
"It's been a steady trend up," said Donna Phillips, chief executive officer.
HealthSouth was the region's first rehabilitation hospital when it opened with 40 beds near Mary Washington Hospital last year.
Today, the average daily patient count has grown to 29. Phillips said she expects to reach capacity this fall and to seek state permission this spring to add a 20-bed wing.
"The need is here," she said.
When officials proposed a rehab hospital for the Fredericksburg area four years ago, they said it would allow patients and their families to stay close to home during therapy. In the past, many patients had to go to Charlottesville, Richmond or Northern Virginia for inpatient rehabilitation.
Since its opening, HealthSouth has treated 600 patients, most of whom live in the Fredericksburg area.
"The distances they've had to travel have been greatly shortened," said Dr. Jeffrey Poffenbarger, a Fredericksburg neurosurgeon who refers patients there.
Typically, patients are discharged from an acute-care hospital and go to a place such as HealthSouth for additional therapy before
That was the case for William Adams.
Adams, a 64-year-old Manassas resident, fell in May after a heart attack. He hit his forehead on the sidewalk and broke two vertebrae in his back.
Adams spent time in the intensive-care unit at Prince William Hospital before transferring to HealthSouth.
He was paralyzed and "couldn't lift a fork to his mouth," when he arrived, Phillips said.
Adams has spent more than 85 days at HealthSouth. Five days a week for five hours a day, he receives various kinds of therapy to regain the use of his body.
"They don't take no for an answer. They come at you all kinds of ways," Adams said.
Today, he gets around the hospital with a walker and believes he will eventually walk out.
"With him, it's a lot of repetition and retraining," Phillips said. "He's making great progress."
About 25 percent of HealthSouth's patients arrive there following a stroke. Others have had a brain or spinal injury, an orthopedic procedure, or like Adams, are recovering from an accident.
The typical patient is at least 70 years old and spends about two weeks there, receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Phillips said HealthSouth will need more beds with the population of the area increasing, and new hospitals under construction in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties. In addition, a trauma service has been proposed at Mary Washington.
"Trauma patients are messy," Poffenbarger, the neurosurgeon, said. "They don't come in and go out. They stay. You're really going to need that capacity for them."
Jim Hall: 540/374-5433