Thursday, May 24, 2001

Rehab, hospice units to be added

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — While Mercy Hospital Hamilton prepares to close in June, Fort Hamilton Hospital is planning to add physical rehabilitation and hospice units as it braces for increased demand.

        An affiliate, Colonial Senior Services, also plans to add more skilled nursing services.

        “When Mercy Hospital Hamilton announced it would close, we quickly formed teams to plan for the increased patient volume,” said James A. Kingsbury, senior vice president of Fort Hamilton Hospital and president and CEO of Fort Hamilton Healthcare Corp.

        “We assessed the services that Mercy had offered and those that would still be needed to provide comprehensive services in Butler County. We believe the addition of these services will benefit our patients and physicians.”

        In March, Mercy Hamilton announced it will close, displacing 630 employees. Since then, Fort Hamilton has been “trying to determine how to best meet the needs of the city and increase staffing,” said spokeswoman Lori Deaton.

        On July 2, Fort Hamilton will add six physical rehabilitation beds. Dr. Gary Ray is the medical director of the rehab unit. He is the former medical director of Mercy Hamilton's rehab unit.

        He said the new, comprehensive rehabilitation unit will serve cardiovascular, stroke and orthopedic patients.

        The unit will “allow for a more timely transfer of patients and a greater continuity of care,” he said.

        According to Mr. Kingsbury, the hospital plans to open a 13-bed hospice unit in a wing of the old Hughes Hospital building on the Fort Hamilton grounds, possibly by the fall.

        The new unit means a hospice program will remain in Hamilton and will allow terminally ill patients to be close to their families, friends and physicians.

        In addition, Colonial Senior Services will increase its skilled nursing services at Westover and Berkley retirement communities. Westover has already increased its number of Medicare beds and Berkley is seeking Medicare certification.

        Last month, Fort Hamilton began a $3.1 million expansion of its emergency department. The hospital will increase life squad bays from two to five; create a special area for psychiatric emergencies, and increase the size of waiting areas, trauma care areas and nursing stations.


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