Partnerships thrive over decades in part because of their ability to succeed and adapt to change.

Take Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services (KHRS) and the acute rehabilitation unit (ARU) at Bayhealth Sussex Campus in Milford, Delaware, which KHRS has managed for more than two decades. The program continues to excel and recently moved to a 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit at Bayhealth’s new hospital located in the southernmost of the three Delaware counties, which is experiencing an influx of retirees.

Bayhealth Sussex Campus Entrance

“This is the community we are serving and our goal is to serve it well, to make sure they have access to good quality rehab close to home,” said Margaret Gulledge, OTD, OTR, and KHRS’ Program Director at the ARU. “And we have to be prepared to serve its needs, because they are growing by leaps and bounds.”

Over time, the ARU has consistently outperformed national averages in key measures of inpatient rehabilitation: higher functional improvement gains for patients and shorter lengths of stay; higher functional improvement gains at discharge; and a lower rate of patients discharging to an acute care facility.

It has also bolstered its reputation with CARF accreditation and uses technology to improve patient engagement and outcomes.

“Our first goal is to address whatever the barrier is to getting that patient out and home,” she said. “And everyone focuses on that. We do a huddle every morning with two different teams, and we go through issues, and work on same therapy goals for the day. That’s made a tremendous difference.”

Bayhealth Sussex Campus Therapy Room

The Bayhealth Sussex ARU has also seized upon technologies that enhance patient engagement and recovery. It uses KHRS’ RehabTracker app, which allows its therapy teams to put the patient at the center of recovery with goal tracking and the ability to share progress with loved ones.

“We are using it now to really focus on not just a communications tool for the families, but as a tool so that everyone is focused on the same goal – the therapist, the patient, the family – everybody sees the goal, everybody sees the progress and everybody celebrates the progress,” said Gulledge.

In addition, Gulledge has connected with the Delaware Assistive Technology Institute, which acts as a lending library of medical equipment and technology, allowing individuals to test equipment before potentially buying it.

“We have a patient that can’t speak as a result of a stroke and we borrowed an augmented communication device that’s been very successful,” she said.

Gulledge added that a key factor that allows the partnership to explore such opportunities while delivering quality patient outcomes is the resources of KHRS. She pointed to KHRS’ assistance with the oft-changing regulatory environment as an example.

“That’s one of the benefits of having Kindred with you is that you’ve got the wealth of knowledge and expertise so that you aren’t having to do it all yourself, understanding it, implementing it and rolling it out,” she said. “Somebody is in the background at Kindred getting us ready for it. We don’t have to do it ourselves.”

Support like that – from KHRS as well as the host hospital – frees the Bayhealth Sussex ARU caregivers to spend more time helping patients in their recovery and journeys to more independent lives. It allows the ARU – located in the nation’s second-smallest state – to think big.

By Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services