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.”