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A hos­pital employee counsels a patient. Courtesy | Hillsdale Hos­pital

With cases going down, the Hillsdale Hos­pital is now able to serve both COVID-19 and rehab patients through full recov­eries. 

Last November, the hos­pital con­verted the entire McGuire short-stay rehab center into a Care and Recovery Center for COVID-19 patients. As of Feb. 15, they have con­verted a portion of the center back into a rehab unit, with 12 CRC beds and seven short-stay rehab beds.  

Hillsdale Hos­pital was orig­i­nally one of two CRCs in the state of Michigan last fall, but now that new CRCs are opening up, the hos­pital is able to serve both COVID-19 and rehab patients in their center.

“As cases have gone down across the region and the state, the need for CRCs has decreased a bit,” said Rachel Lott, Hillsdale Hos­pital director of mar­keting and devel­opment. “Plus the number of CRCs has increased since we opened ours.”

The hos­pital ini­tially applied to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Ser­vices to create the CRC, pro­viding infor­mation about their plan for staffing, floor plans, and resources. The hos­pital had 19 short-stay beds con­verted into CRC beds.

Early in the pan­demic, nursing facil­ities and rehab centers around the state, including Hillsdale Hospital’s rehab center, adopted policies to not admit any patients with con­firmed COVID-19 to protect their other patients. However, many patients recov­ering from COVID-19 were not able to remain in the hos­pital for a full recovery.

“When a patient was doing well enough to leave the hos­pital, but not quite ready to go home, it was dif­ficult to find a place that could provide the care they needed and would actually accept them as a patient,” Lott said.

Many patients were not pro­vided with the com­plete care that they needed, and Hillsdale became one of the first hos­pitals to step up and create a CRC, Lott said.

“When we under­stood how many patients were falling through the cracks, having nowhere to go for the care they needed after being hos­pi­talized with COVID-19, we had to step in and help,” Jeremiah J. Hod­shire, pres­ident and CEO of Hillsdale Hos­pital, said. “We knew we had the appro­priate space, staffing levels, pro­tocols, and mea­sures in place to be able to suc­cess­fully care for these patients.”

According to the MDHHS, the hos­pital had to follow numerous guide­lines in order to be approved as a CRC. An entire wing, unit, or sep­arate building had to be des­ig­nated for the CRC, and arti­ficial walls or bar­riers could not be used to form two dis­tinct areas. The MDHHS sent out state­ments to COVID-19 patients with an update on the CRC plans that they were expe­ri­encing firsthand.

“We need to do things dif­fer­ently right now,” said Kate Massey, Med­icaid director, in a letter to the MDHHS. “We will con­tinue to offer support so that we can get through this together and return to normal as soon as pos­sible.”

The Hillsdale CRC served both Hillsdale res­i­dents and res­i­dents from counties across the state.

“Ini­tially, we had more out-of-area patients because there were so few CRCs in the state,” Lott said. “Hos­pitals looking to dis­charge patients who couldn’t be dis­charged to home would learn through the state where the CRCs are located and then fam­ilies have the option to choose where to send their loved ones. We also sent infor­mation out to all the nursing homes in Michigan.”

Across the state, there are now 24 CRCs pro­viding care for COVID-19 patients. Hillsdale will now be able to use their center for both COVID-19 and rehab patients. Although the guide­lines for sep­a­ration and spacing are strict, the hos­pital has been able to follow all reg­u­la­tions.

“The CRC and short-stay rehab area are sep­a­rated by a set of double doors that remain closed at all times,” Lott said. “Even though they’re on the same floor and are typ­i­cally operated as one unit, we are able to split them into two in order to apply our strict infection control mea­sures and keep all our patients safe.”