[caption id="attachment_223486" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Middletown is seeking to add 10 beds in a new wing. | PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING[/caption]
MIDDLETOWN — Encompass Health plans on adding 10 beds at its Middletown rehabilitation hospital, as it consistently contends with a high occupancy rate since it first opened its doors.The new wing would bring the facility up to 50 beds and it would add another eight full-time equivalent employees, which includes five nursing employees, a full-time therapist and a case manager as well. The addition would feature 10 new private patient rooms, a second nurses’ station and other patient care areas.In 2016, Encompass Middletown had 34 beds and tracked 849 patient discharges, with occupancy rate of 94%. As of May 2021, there were 1,232 discharges and occupancy is around 98%.“I’m very confident if this project gets approved, we would have similar success in filling these beds right out of the gate,” Encompass Area CEO Mathew Gooch told the Health Resources Board on May 26. “On our very first day, we admitted seven patients, which showed us there was a significant demand for our specialized care.”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.Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Middletown opened in December 2014. A year later, Gooch said the facility was at 100% occupancy. While the building was built for growth in mind, Encompass was able to add three beds in 2017 and three more in 2020.According to internal data, Encompass Middletown had to turn away 480 rehab patients between January 2021 and February 2022 because no bed was available. These patients qualified for Encompass’s three-hour program of physical or speech therapy per day for five days a week, likely referred by hospitals.“We are currently running a census [of patients] of 40, we have six discharges and we have eight patients who need to come to our hospital. So there’s two people who will either find rehab care elsewhere, or they will go home without care or they will have to stay in an acute care bed for another night,” Gooch said.He pointed out that Delaware’s population will continue to grow older and would likely continue to need more care. 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.