At a time when many rural hospitals are struggling to survive, Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center is thriving.
A massive 74,000 square-foot expansion opened this summer, adding 28 ventilator beds, bringing the total bed capacity to 127, which makes it the largest freestanding ventilator-dependent skilled unit in the nation.
Since its opening in 1983, the Respiratory Care Center has provided state-of-the-art care for patients who, because of illness or injury, are dependent on mechanical ventilators to breathe.
Patients need ventilator care for a variety of reasons. They might be suffering from a chronic illness such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure, or a muscle-weakening disease such as muscular myopathy.
The Respiratory Care Center also cares for patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS. Babies who have been born prematurely arrive with underdeveloped lungs or have other pediatric disorders that affect their breathing.
Through the years, Rockcastle Regional has earned a reputation of quality, specifically for the work that goes into weaning patients from the ventilator. For many patients, weaning is the goal, even though many require an extraordinarily complex level of care. Still, forty percent of Rockcastle’s patients will wean completely and be discharged, which is an extraordinarily high wean rate for similar facilities across the country.
The long-term care rehabilitation and therapy department has also moved to the new building, nearly quadrupling its space. Rehabilitation is an essential part Rockcastle Regional’s multi-disciplinary approach to resident care. The larger space accommodates more patients at one time, allowing for more social interaction and the capacity to make therapy sessions not only clinically productive, but fun as well. A full pediatric gym was also designed in the new space, which allows for pediatric patients to receive daily therapy.
Returning home is a goal for many residents. To help prepare them to be discharged, a complete home setting suite was built into the therapy space, giving residents the ability to practice daily activities such as cooking, meal prep, cleaning, and general household tasks.
Rockcastle Regional’s commitment to its residents goes beyond their physical needs. A chapel is located on the second floor to allow for weekly Sunday worship services as well as host the residents’ weekly Bible study class. The chapel is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and welcomes patients, residents, families, employees, and visitors.
Rockcastle Regional has long partnered with Rockcastle County Schools to provide education to its youngest residents. The hospital’s on-site classroom for resident students is now located in the new building and offers much of the same equipment and technology as a traditional classroom, including a smart board and computers.
Social services can be found on the first floor of the new facility. The central location provides for quicker response time and better coordination with residents and their families.
Every aspect of the addition was built with the patient in mind, from the spacious new day rooms for activities to the spacious patient rooms and 10-foot wide corridors, making for easy navigating throughout patient care areas. And a new dining facility will free up the existing one to be used exclusively for residents.
The addition also includes room for further expansion for patient care, including a dialysis clinic.
“We are growing as an organization, but more importantly, we are growing in our capacity to deliver high-quality care,” said Stephen A. Estes, president and CEO. “We have an outstanding facility, but our focus as always is on making sure our patients get the best care possible.”
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