Rehab center opens Unit at Kernan Hospital is largest of kind in Md.

March 31, 1996|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Goodbye, Montebello. Hello, Kernan.

The William Donald Schaefer Rehabilitation Center at Kernan Hospital opened for business yesterday with about 100 patients -- including the last 60 from the Montebello Rehabilitation Hospital in Northeast Baltimore.

The $30 million Schaefer Rehabilitation Center, on an 88-acre campus at the city's western edge, replaces the aging Montebello. The old hospital closed yesterday and will be converted into offices for Morgan State University.

With 128 beds, the Schaefer center becomes the state's largest facility dedicated to rehabilitation, officials said. The Kernan complex is part of the University of Maryland Medical System, as was Montebello.

"This provides for a nice, seamless continuum of care for our patients," said Don Joyce, the medical system's vice president for post-acute services and Kernan Hospital. "It's our flagship operation for rehabilitation."

Patients who suffer serious injuries can be treated at downtown hospitals and then transferred to the Schaefer center, Mr. Joyce said.

If patients need further surgery, they can be treated in Kernan's surgical area, often by the same doctors who performed the initial operation, he said. At Montebello, patients needing subsequent surgery had to be moved to other hospitals for operations, then back to Montebello.

Hospital officials say the center has been designed to ensure that treatment revolves around the patient, with four units -- for strokes, traumatic brain injuries, orthopedics, and spinal cord and other neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis.

A quick tour of the facility to show off its state-of-the-art equipment and design features also showed that the hospital is scrambling to finish more than a few final touches.

Construction workers were everywhere, the swimming-therapy pool was two weeks from completion and the outdoor landscaping hadn't been started.

The patients who arrived were greeted warmly by the staff and found welcoming flowers in their rooms. "Everything essential to the patients' welfare is done," said James E. Ross, Kernan's executive director.

Patients praised the new center yesterday. While they shared four-patient rooms without bathrooms at Montebello, at the new center they rested in private or semi-private rooms with their own bathrooms and views of the campus.

"It's much more modern, so it makes you feel a little better," said Kishia Dunston, 25, of Laurel. "The food seems better, too. Much better."

Pub Date: 3/31/96

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