Community Rehabilitation Hospital Is Now More Plush

The road to recovery gets a few upgrades

For the first time in its almost-40-year history, Community Rehabilitation Hospital has its own digs. The spanking-new facility, located on Community’s Castleton-area campus, began hosting patients in June. Walking his daily rounds to meet patients and families, CEO Doug Beebe explains the hospital’s mission. “We are high touch, low tech,” he says. “After [the hospitals] save them, we take care of them.” In 2012, patients from eight states and 85 hospitals made their way to CRH’s old wing in Community’s eastside hospital to recover from the likes of stroke, brain injury, spinal-cord damage, and more. So what’s special about the new spot? It was custom-built with therapy in mind. Here are five of the coolest results.

The Courtyard Rocks—Literally
In a therapeutic courtyard near the first-floor therapy gym, patients can practice walking, rolling, or turning around on square patches of gravel, concrete, brick, grass, and artificial turf. A small putting green, a basketball court, and wheelchair-height garden boxes there also help patients work on balance issues, flexibility, and affected motor skills.

Bounding Dogs Abound
The new building allows plenty of room for a black lab and a golden retriever to assist patients with the 40 commands each knows, including getting food from a fridge, picking up a driver’s license, and resting their heads in laps. The dogs also inspire patients to work out their arms and hands by petting the animals.

Meals Feel Normal
Street clothes and dining tickets are mandatory at mealtime—no hospital robes allowed. Why? The formalities help patients begin to feel independent and sociable again. Further temptation is provided by the onsite chef, who only makes a patient’s meal when he or she has arrived in the dining room, so the from-scratch dishes (like lasagna, pot roast, and Brussels sprouts) are as fresh as possible.

Weight Is No Object
New bariatric suites can accommodate people who weigh up to 1,000 pounds with wider doors, bathrooms, chairs, and beds, making CRH the first rehab facility in the state to offer options for larger patients. Lifts attached to the ceilings in each room—and in the onsite therapy gym—assist people up to 1,000 and 650 pounds, respectively, to move safely.

Nice Nights Out
This perk isn’t part of the building, but it is neat. CRH plans “adaptive leisure” events for its live-at-home and outpatients, including camping on an Indiana State University campus and fishing on Lake Freeman. One spinal-cord patient in a wheelchair went to the movies with the program—and afterward said the experience made him forget about the chair. “That’s what we want,” Beebe says. “We want people to forget, be confident, and move on.”

Illustration by Carl Wiens

This article appeared in the November 2013 issue.