William Donald Schaefer Rehab Center is expected to be ready to open in April Combined institution of Montebello and Kernan will employ 500 workers

January 30, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Work is nearing completion on a $30 million physical rehabilitation center on the grounds of James Lawrence Kernan Hospital near Woodlawn, which officials say will be the largest such facility in the state when it opens in April.

The 128-bed William Donald Schaefer Rehabilitation Center at Kernan will replace Montebello Rehabilitation Hospital on Argonne Drive, in Northeast Baltimore -- the result of a merger of the two institutions as part of the University of Maryland Medical System.

As a combined institution, Montebello and Kernan will employ 500 workers -- a substantial reduction from the 650 divided between the two facilities at the time of the merger two years ago.

James E. Ross, executive director of Kernan, said the number of employees who might be displaced has been reduced to 20 through attrition and efforts to find jobs for them -- particularly at other medical facilities.

"Our goal is to whittle that number down to zero," Mr. Ross said. "The staff who were not selected were alerted nine months ago and many of them have found other positions."

Nestled on Kernan's 85-acre campus at 2200 N. Forest Park Ave., the new two-story building offers bright, airy rooms with large windows that will allow patients a view of the grounds and wooded areas near the western city-county border.

Mr. Ross said the design is very "patient-focused."

"Everything revolves around the patient, with services the patient needs adjacent to their rooms," Mr. Ross said. "Everything is very convenient in terms of getting the services they need in a timely manner."

The 155,000-square-feet facility is equipped with wheelchair-accessible showers and a pool with lifts to assist patients in and out of the water.

"Two of the buildings' floors will be used for patient services, and they each have their own dining area because we encourage patients to come out and join others rather than eating alone in their rooms," Mr. Ross said. "It's a high-touch program more so than a high-tech one."

The facility will have separate rehabilitation areas for treatment of traumatic brain injury, stroke, orthopedic problems, spinal cord and other neurological injuries and conditions.

The new building was designed to blend with Kernan's existing buildings. Kernan, which recently celebrated its centennial, will maintain 24 medical and surgical beds in a newly renovated area of its current hospital building, Mr. Ross said.

Montebello is to be used as office space for Morgan State University after the move.

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