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Open for business.

Open For Business

60-Bed, $9.2-Million Rehabilitation Hospital Opens At Fayetteville

Telephone calls to the staff at Northwest Arkansas Rehabilitation Hospital began weeks ago, long before the complex officially unlocked its doors.

People wanted to know if the 60-bed hospital was open for admissions.

Karen Burgess, director of marketing for the facility in the North Hills Medical Park at Fayetteville, could only tell them to wait.

"Word got out quickly about us," Burgess says. "We had calls from people who hoped we would be open already.

"Now, we can tell them we are."

On Monday, the first 15 patients were admitted to Northwest, a $9.2-million facility designed to meet the rehabilitation needs of those who have had a disabling injury or illness.

A VIP reception and an open house preceded Monday's official opening.

"Everything is done," Burgess said a week before the hospital opened. "We are ready to roll. We are fully staffed, and everyone has been oriented to the way we're going to be doing things."

The final piece of the puzzle was the appointment of Dr. Ralph Gary Laraiso as medical director.

Laraiso was chief resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation for St. Francis Medical Center at Pittsburgh.

As the medical director at Fayetteville, Laraiso will head a staff built primarily by hiring employees of other Arkansas rehabilitation institutes.

One of those employees is Walt Green, who left Fort Smith Rehabilitation Hospital to join Northwest as director of therapeutic recreation.

The 5-year-old Fort Smith hospital is considered the new hospital's primary competitor.

Since opening, Fort Smith Rehabilitation has dominated the industry in northwest Arkansas, boasting an almost 100 percent occupancy rate.

Burgess says Northwest should draw most of its patients from northwest Arkansas and east Oklahoma, a common ground with Fort Smith.

Interest Is Good

"We're getting a wide variety of referrals already," Burgess says. "Some are from professional referral sources, but because of the high level of public interest, a number of calls have come directly from the public."

Burgess says a woman at Tulsa, Okla., whose aunt suffered a stroke, heard about Northwest and asked about rehabilitation services.

"We're finding that referral sources are pleased to have a more convenient rehab hospital," she says.

The single-story, 56,000-SF hospital will employ 70 people. When fully operational, it will have at least 200 employees.

Continental Medical Systems of Mechanicsburg, Pa., and its joint venture partner, Washington Regional Medical Center at Fayetteville, own the hospital.

Continental also operates rehabilitation facilities at Sherwood and Jonesboro.

The Fayetteville facility boasts a traumatic brain injury unit. Burgess calls it a "minihospital" for those with serious head injuries.

"It is for someone who needs a tremendous amount of therapy," Burgess says. "We help them re-learn everything normal adults take for granted."

Officials expect the occupancy rate to rise quickly as word gets out. In other words, the phone will keep ringing.

"It's not like an acute-care unit where people come into the emergency room needing immediate help," Burgess says. "Most of the time, they need to be stabilized in another setting.

"For example, stroke patients typically need seven to 10 days in acute care. But by the second day, they can start planning for discharge care in a rehab."

PHOTO : OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Northwest Arkansas Rehabilitation Hospital expected 15 admissions when it opened its doors Monday in the North Hills Medical Park at Fayetteville.

Kane Webb Arkansas Business Staff
COPYRIGHT 1991 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Northwest Arkansas Rehabilitation Hospital
Author:Webb, Kane
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:company profile
Date:Aug 5, 1991
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Next Article:From bonds to bibles.

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