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A culture of caring at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Middletown

Aug 30, 2016 03:20PM ● Published by Steven Hoffman

The professional staff at HealthSouth Middletown works with each patient to formulate a rehabilitation program that will get patients on the road to recovery.

By Steve Hoffman
Staff Writer

When Kenny Perdue arrived at the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Middletown earlier this year, he was facing a difficult road to recovery after he suffered traumatic injuries to the tibia and fibula in his left leg during a May 8 motorcycle accident. The 57-year-old resident of Newark had spent eight days in a Delaware hospital followed by two more days in a Pennsylvania hospital for treatment before he was ready to undergo the extensive rehabilitation that would be necessary to get him back on his feet.

When it was time to select a place for rehabilitation services, Perdue and his wife did some research. Perdue's brother had previously had a good experience at a HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in another state, so they looked into HealthSouth Middletown, a relatively new hospital in the growing community. Perdue's wife went on a tour of the building and met everyone in the nursing department who would be caring for her husband. She saw the gym and the other facilities where he would be working on his rehabilitation. The staff explained how the rehabilitation services would be provided, and how the therapies would help Perdue achieve his goal of getting back to his normal life at home.

The rehabilitation work started right away. Instead of relying on a bedpan or a urinal, like he did while in the hospital, Perdue was taught by the staff how to transfer himself from the bed to the wheelchair so that he could move to the bathroom safely and independently. He couldn't bear any weight on his foot initially,so the staff slowly started him on the process of building up his strength. The staff utilized state-of-the-art equipment at HealthSouth Middletown, including a machine that can be raised or lowered to simulate what it would be like to transfer from a wheelchair to a car or SUV. After some work, Perdue was able to stand with a walker. He progressed quickly, thanks to the work of the capable and caring staff.

“The first time I used the walker and 'hopped' 15 feet, I knew that I was accomplishing something,” Perdue explained. “I knew that I was in the place where I needed to be to get home.”

HealthSouth Middletown CEO Mathew E. Gooch credits the staff of approximately 160 people with helping Perdue and others like him who need rehabilitation services.

“The staff at HealthSouth Middletown is really second to none,” Gooch said. “They really create a family environment here.”

Perdue said that the staff was very encouraging and caring as he worked on his rehabilitation. He formed friendships with Stephanie and Sean, two of his therapists. He also said that he and his wife found it very helpful that the therapists taught her about the treatments and training that he was receiving so that she, too, could help him with what he needed to do to recover.

“My therapists were awesome,” he explained. “They went above and beyond for not only me, but for all the patients. I really felt that the therapists looked at your individual goals and helped you achieve them.”

That kind of testimonial is very heartening to Gooch.

He was previously the top administrator of an acute care hospital in Pennsylvania, and was hired as the CEO in the summer of 2014 to help open HealthSouth Middletown. He oversaw the hiring of the staff and was able to establish a culture of caring at the hospital from the onset, supported by the policies and practices of the HealthSouth Corporation, which operates approximately 120 inpatient hospitals throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The Middletown location on East Hampden Road is the first HealthSouth in Delaware. There are 34 beds at the facility, and they usually have 32 or 33 patients a day—so essentially the rehabilitation hospital operates near its capacity for much of the year. When HealthSouth Middletown opened in December of 2014, they initially limited the number of patients so that the new staff could focus on delivering quality care without the possibility of being overburdened.

“There was a tremendous need for a rehabilitation hospital like this in this area,” Gooch explained. “We probably could have filled the hospital up within the first two weeks, but we wanted to take it slow.”

HealthSouth Middletown provides rehabilitative care for patients who are recovering from conditions such as cardiac and pulmonary conditions, strokes, spinal cord injuries, complex orthopedic conditions, or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs).

“We treat patients with a lot of different medical issues,” explained Gooch. “I think we treat a typical mix of patients.”

According to Gooch, patients who have received rehabilitation services at HealthSouth Middletown have said repeatedly that they appreciate such quality care close to home. Before HealthSouth Middletown opened, patients with traumatic brain injuries often had to go to hospitals in Pennsylvania or Maryland to receive the care and treatment that they needed because the services weren't available in this part of Delaware.

“We were very happy to be able to treat TBI patients,” Gooch said. “That was a need in the area that was not being met.”

He added that HealthSouth plays a vital role and fits in well with Delaware's larger system of health care providers.

“For most of our patients, we are a part of their health care journey,” Gooch said. “We work with a lot of great outpatient partners in the area.”

The average stay for a patient is 10 to 14 days, which gives the staff the opportunity to get to know the patients and to work with them on any health issues that they might be dealing with. The staff is literally on a first-name basis with the patients. Gooch said that he relishes the opportunity to work at a hospital where patients see so many benefits from the personal care that they receive.

“I got into health care to make a difference,” he explained. “You can really get to know a patient over the course of 10 to 14 days.”

HealthSouth also understands what patients need with regard to a building for rehabilitation services. Gooch explained that the hospital was designed with the safety and the comfort of patients in mind. HealthSouth, as a company, makes a point to talk to staff about any possible design changes that might improve care and comfort for patients.

Gooch explained, “They get input from the staff in the previous generation of buildings for any new hospital that HealthSouth builds.”

At HealthSouth Middletown, all the rooms are private, and patients also have access to private showers. Each room has a recessed area where the staff can do their work without disturbing the patient or having to stand in the hallway.

“The patients have nice rooms to get well in,” Gooch said.

There is one central nursing station that allows for improved oversight for patients and better collaboration for the staff.

HealthSouth had the building designed so that they can add six more rooms with only minimal construction required, so the hospital will be able to expand in the future to meet the needs of a growing community. At HealthSouth, Gooch said, the focus will always remain on delivering quality care to patients like Perdue.




After a 22-day stay, Perdue was able to leave the rehabilitation hospital and return home where he is still recovering from his effects of the motorcycle accident. As a result of the rehabilitation therapy that he received at HealthSouth Middletown, he is able to feel independent in his own home. He said that he would definitely recommend HealthSouth to others.

For those who need rehabilitation from an injury or an ailment,“We say that it is the place to be,” Perdue explained.

It is certainly the place to be to get back on the road to recovery. Gooch said that for the latest reporting period, 83 percent of the patients at HealthSouth were discharged to return to their homes, which is slightly higher than the 78 percent average in the region. He and the staff take great satisfaction when they are able to help patients like Perdue return to their normal lives.

“Our ultimate goal, explained Gooch, “is to get people back to the life they knew before they were in the hospital. This company truly places a focus on quality outcomes.”

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