Duke Health, WakeMed Health & Hospitals and Kindred Healthcare, LLC today announced they are creating a joint venture to construct and operate a 52-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital in western Wake County, North Carolina. The parties have identified a potential site and are working to finalize the details.

Duke, WakeMed and Kindred have filed a Certificate of Need application with the State of North Carolina seeking to relocate 52 licensed or approved inpatient rehabilitation beds from Duke and WakeMed to the new inpatient physical rehabilitation facility. Pending state approval, the new inpatient rehabilitation hospital will provide care for adult patients in western and southern Wake County and surrounding areas with impairments including those resulting from a serious medical situation such as stroke or orthopedic injury and deconditioning after surgery or illness.

“With the extreme growth in the area, there is a need for ready access to inpatient rehabilitation services, especially for patients in western and southern Wake County and surrounding areas,” said William J. Fulkerson Jr., M.D., executive vice president for Duke University Health System and professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. “Serious illness and injury make travel difficult particularly among older people. This joint venture provides people living in these communities access to high-quality inpatient rehab services close to home as well as increasing access to rehab services to patients throughout the region.”

“Duke and WakeMed leadership recognize the need to provide patients in western Wake County and beyond with greater access to the high-quality care they deserve while keeping pace with our area’s rapid growth,” said Donald R. Gintzig, president & CEO, WakeMed Health & Hospitals. “The tri-venture among Duke, WakeMed and Kindred is an innovative and cost-effective way to deliver needed inpatient rehab services to the residents of our region.”

Long Time Coming

For years, Duke and WakeMed rehabilitation physicians, leaders, nurses and therapists have worked together in different capacities to help adults and children recover and rejoin the community after serious illness or injury. They have long discussed ways to work together to expand access to high-quality inpatient rehab care in cost-effective ways and look forward to working with Kindred to deliver on the vision for the new hospital.

Kindred will manage the day-to-day operations of the new hospital. A board of managers with representatives from all three entities will provide oversight.

“Kindred’s experience operating inpatient rehabilitation hospitals will complement the highly regarded patient care services that Duke and WakeMed currently provide, resulting in a collaboration that will improve health outcomes, inpatient rehabilitation access and clinical integration,” said Jason Zachariah, Kindred’s president and chief operating officer. “We are pleased to work with two premier health care providers in North Carolina’s Triangle and surrounding area to offer quality post-acute care resources for the benefit of the community.”

The facility is expected to open in 2023, subject to necessary regulatory and other approvals.

Facility Design

The 62,000-square-foot standalone hospital will feature private rooms and private bathrooms, with designated wings for patients with orthopedic issues and stroke and other neurological conditions. The main therapy suite will be located on the first floor complete with a therapy gym, rooms for multiple therapy protocols, private therapy rooms, cooking therapy room, and an “Activities of Daily Living” therapy suite. Additional therapy rooms will be located on the second floor for convenient access to therapy for the entire patient population.

The all-private-room facility configuration will allow space for the patients’ privacy, comfort and treatment needs. The room design will enable nurses and therapists sufficient space for treatment and equipment while also providing space for the patient’s family to be present. Rooms are designed to optimally meet the needs of each patient and enhance their quality of care.

The design has been implemented at several Kindred rehabilitation hospitals throughout the country with significant success in enhancing patient outcomes and improving their quality of life and opportunity to return home or to a lower level of care after treatment.