[caption id="attachment_223486" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Middletown was approved to add 10 beds in a new wing. | PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING[/caption]
MIDDLETOWN — Encompass Healthcarereceived approval to add 10 beds to its Middletown rehabilitation center from the state Health Resources Board, citing concerns that it was turning away patients due to lack of available beds.Encompass Healthcare will add 10 new private patient rooms, a second nurses’ station and other patient care areas. That would bring the rehab facility up to 50 beds — continuing a trend in the last decade, as it added five beds combined since 2017.In May 2021, the occupancy rate was 97%, according to Encompass officials. Internal reporting provided to the Health Resources Board showed that 480 rehab patients were turned away between January 2021 and February 2022 because there were no beds available.“That number [97%] really jumps out at me. If we have to divert [patients] to skilled nursing when what you need is rehabilitation, or you’re sending them home, where maybe they could get a physical therapist but not the equipment, it does seem like this falls into the [state health resource] goals,” Health Resource Board Chair Brett Fallon said.Encompass Health is a publicly-traded health care services provider, focusing on patient care through a network of inpatient facilities, home health and hospice agencies. The health care service has 148 hospitals, 252 home health locations and 99 hospice locations in 42 states and Puerto Rico. The Middletown hospital is the only one in the First State.At its facility on Route 299, the Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Middletown treats conditions such as stroke, amputation, oncology, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and more. Its staff includes physicians, nurses, physical therapists, as well as speech-language therapists and respiratory therapists.Board members Liz Brown and Pam Price questioned whether 10 beds would be sufficient to address the capacity issues at hand. The Middletown facility has no shell space available, but Encompass Area CEO Mathew Gooch noted it had the infrastructure to add more beds if needed“With the growth in New Castle County, we feel that 10 beds is the right number. If we do have to come to the board again in a few more years to add 10 more beds, there is room for it down the road if there’s a need for it,” Gooch said.For perspective, adding 10 beds would be a 25% increase of beds.According to last year’s report from the Delaware Population Consortium, there will be a 19% increase in New Castle County residents who are age 65 and older by 2027. Roughly 70% of Encompass Health patients on a month-to-month basis are seniors, with the average length of stay at Encompass is between 10 to 12 days.