Design Decisions: Fueling a rehab revolution

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Roughly 900 short-term rehab patients have benefited from the therapy services at Albemarle Health & Rehabilitiaton Center since it opened 21 months ago.
Roughly 900 short-term rehab patients have benefited from the therapy services at Albemarle Health & Rehabilitiaton Center since it opened 21 months ago.

When it opened in January 2016, the Albemarle Health & Rehabilitation Center introduced a 21st century post-acute model of patient care to Charlottesville, VA, a town with roots in 18th century colonial America.

The $17 million, 65,000 square-foot therapy center offers post-surgical patients a 3,900 square-foot gym with high-tech equipment, private rooms, an indoor mobility gym and restaurant-style dining. 

The center provides what representatives call a “transformative” model of care, bridging the hospital-to-home gap while furnishing physical, occupational and speech therapy to patients recovering from stroke, cardiovascular illness and various orthopedic surgeries.

The design of the 120-unit building “begins with the end in mind — maximizing each patient's recovery, satisfaction and customer service experience,” says Bruce Hedrick, vice president of development for Albemarle's parent company, Medical Facilities of America. “The goal of the building is to enhance our hallmark programs, showcase our rehab gym and equipment, facilitate the delivery of care and enhance the customer experience.”

Some of the new rehab equipment is literally space-age. The AlterG anti-gravity treadmill was designed by NASA and uses advanced unweighted technology to provide support and stability for patients. It is used most frequently in the rehabilitation of joint replacements, lower extremity fractures and neurologic conditions, says Ron
Selzler, vice president of rehabilitation services.

“It has been proven to help stroke and orthopedic patients get back on their feet faster,” he says.

The main gym also sports interactive CyberCycles, an HUR iBalance interactive training system and a Dynamic Stair Trainer. The CyberCycle combines a recumbent bike with interactive gaming technologies, while the HUR iBalance is used to assess a patient's balance and determines fall risk. The Dynamic Stair Trainer is a set of training stairs that allows the therapist to replicate the height and width of stairs a patient has at home. These additions are part of MFA's LifeWorks Rehab program.

The property is divided into four neighborhoods, with 30 private rooms in each neighborhood. Large windows and vaulted ceilings also provide natural light and a view of the surrounding mountains. The neighborhoods feature walkout patios, cafés, and a “comfortable restaurant-style dining atmosphere perfect for family visits,” says Albemarle Administrator Jeremiah Davis. 

The location of the therapy gym and specialized indoor mobility gym at the core of the center “sets the tone for a successful rehabilitation stay,” Davis says. “We believe these two spacious environments, combined with our highly skilled therapy team, gives our patients the ideal setting to recover.”