West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital: Walter L. Concepcion, CEO

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Located in Miami-Dade County, West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital is quickly pursuing its place in a highly competitive market. The 180-bed hospital includes a 60-bed inpatient acute rehabilitation hospital on its first and second floors and a skilled nursing facility on its third and fourth floors.

Located in a district with dozens of skilled nursing facilities and seven rehabilitation hospitals, West Gables faces stiff competition. CEO Walter Concepcion said the hospital consistently works to provide the highest level of care along with education for patients and local physicians.

Community education

“Whether we teach patients of the extra steps taken to provide good care or we teach physicians about our services, we must always be in education mode, deep within the community,” Concepcion said. “It is doubly important because with so many changes in medical rulings, it is harder to get patients into the hospital.”

Because of changes in Medicare, a patient who had a knee replacement a year ago and now wants to have the second knee worked on may not be admitted today. Providing updated information about these changes to physicians and patients is a major challenge for the hospital. And with some skilled nursing facilities in South Florida changing their names to rehabilitation facilities, the challenge has only increased.

“Skilled nursing facilities do not provide the same services as a rehabilitation hospital, nor do they conform to the same Medicare standards,” Concepcion said. “As just one example, to be compliant with Medicare, we must do a minimum of three hours of rehabilitation each and every day. We have to educate doctors and patients on how we are different.”

Hospital admissions primarily come from physicians and patients with friends or family members as patients. The word-of-mouth nature of the hospital’s promotion may help build a solid reputation, but it also increases the need for clear, correct education.

West Gables features two distinct entities between its rehabilitation hospital and its skilled nursing facility. The rehabilitation hospital is part of Select Medical and occupies the first and second floors of the facility. West Gables Health Care Center, the skilled nursing facility, is on the third and fourth floors of the building and is owned by Preferred Care Partners Management Group.

Upgrading for the future

West Gables is CARF accredited for inpatient acute rehabilitation and stroke specialty programs, and the hospital has received the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval.

“By having rehabilitation and skilled nursing in one building for the past 10 years, we have been a one-stop shop for patients,” Concepcion said. “With new Medicare regulations, we believe this could be the future of most facilities.”

West Gables continues to work on becoming one entity. Recently, the rehabilitation hospital was renovated with new flooring, a new roof, low-maintenance lighting, and 40 new parking spaces. A new cafeteria was also built, resulting in an unanticipated outcome–West Gables is now the top food destination, even among staff and patients from surrounding hospitals.

And, in an important upgrade for any facility so close to the Tropics, by the first quarter of 2012, the entire hospital will have new hurricane-resistant windows.

A major area of capital spending over the past two years has been rebuilding the inpatient and outpatient therapy gyms. These gyms feature state-of-art equipment for physical and occupational therapy. In addition, the skilled nursing facility includes a 900 square-foot gym to provide a similar level of physical therapy care that a patient would receive in the rehabilitation hospital. This is a major benefit to patients.

“Even though we have all of this equipment to work with the patient, the best way to help our patients is to use it while they are in therapy,” Concepcion said. “We encourage them, and we set goals.”

At present, half of the 100 patients typically at West Gables receive one-on-one care. The other half are seen on a two-to-one basis. Concepcion expects to raise the percentage of one-on-one care in the coming years.

The next 22 years

Concepcion said the hospital is committed to providing quality, culturally sensitive care. With a 22-year track record, the hospital’s physical therapy staff is among the best in the area, according to the CEO.

“For patients, we are home away from home,” he said. “After a time, we also become like family to our patients, except we are highly trained. The culture of teamwork here is strong. And because we have been helping people with their rehab for more than two decades, we can honestly say we have what it takes to provide the very best service.”

-by Patricia Chaney

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