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CEO Cindy Whitten, left, and Business Development Director Christine Kern are now serving acute patients at Select Specialty Hospital on East Primrose.
CEO Cindy Whitten, left, and Business Development Director Christine Kern are now serving acute patients at Select Specialty Hospital on East Primrose.

Select Specialty Hospital opens for business

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The Springfield health care industry has a new member.

Select Specialty Hospital, owned by Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based Select Medical Corp., opened its Springfield long-term acute care hospital facility at 1630 E. Primrose St. in February and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 13.

While CoxHealth and St. John’s Health System cover the majority of the area’s inpatient health care needs – handling a combined 2,200 inpatient beds and more than 320,000 inpatient days annually – Select Specialty’s Springfield CEO Cindy Whitten said the new $8 million facility fills a different niche in the local health care market.

“You have patients who get very sick or injured, and they’re in the critical care units at Cox or St. John’s, but (those hospitals) need to turn those beds over to admit new patients,” Whitten said. “They have a lot of admissions and discharges in a day. We can take those patients … that are sometimes tying up those beds, and move them here to a place that’s very targeted.”

Select Specialty’s services range from pulmonary event weaning – working to slowly remove patients from ventilators – to helping patients with brain injuries to providing wound care.

Whitten said the facility also will offer dialysis services once it completes its demonstration period for Medicare officials; the hospital has to show Medicare that it has patients staying 25 days or longer before it can add dialysis.

Officials at both CoxHealth and St. John’s say the Select Specialty Hospital fills a valuable need.

“They care for patients who have needs that exceed the abilities of nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities but don’t necessarily require all the capability that we have within the hospital,” said Dr. John Duff, senior vice president of hospital services for CoxHealth, who added that Cox has thus far sent nine patients to Select Specialty for long-term care. “By assuming the care of those patients, they help assure that patients are in the right type of facility and, quite honestly, free up some of our bed capacity.”

Capacity is of critical importance, even to hospitals the size of Cox and St. John’s. A 2004 study by the American Hospital Association found that 50 percent of the hospitals used in the study had emergency departments that were at or beyond capacity and had to divert some portion of incoming ambulances to other hospitals.

Mike Peters, vice president of public affairs for St. John’s, said that while he didn’t have an exact number for how many patients St. John’s has sent to Select Specialty Hospital, acute-care hospitals allow the larger health care providers to put their specialized facilities to better use.

“So much of what goes on in a hospital is specialized – it would be a wasted resource to put a person who has the flu in a room designed to take care of burn patients,” Peters said. “We know that any time you can put a patient who doesn’t require acute care into a setting where the care is provided more efficiently, that’s great for us, because it does free up beds that could be used by incoming patients.”

And neither of the larger hospitals needs to worry about direct competition from Select Specialty Hospital, according to CEO Whitten. She said her facility has no plans to expand its services into areas traditionally covered by the larger hospitals.

“We could add additional beds in the future if we need to, though we have no plans now. But we will not ever offer outpatient therapy,” Whitten said. “What you see now – our mission and our model – is pretty consistent with what you’ll see in the future. It’s very targeted and very focused.”

Select Medical Corp.

Select Medical Corp., based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., was established in 1996 and operates 92 Select Specialty Hospitals in 25 states, including locations in St. Louis and Kansas City. The company also operates about 1,000 outpatient rehabilitation clinics, including 565 Select Physical Therapy centers in 35 states and Washington D.C., and offers rehabilitation services to nursing homes and assisted living centers. [[In-content Ad]]

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