Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Cutler Bay, formerly known as HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, has 41 framed success stories on the walls of virtually every hallway of the facility, but that number represents only a small percentage of the patients they have helped and the lives improved.
Luis Allende-Ruiz, who has been the CEO of Encompass Health for the past six months, said he is constantly inspired by what he sees.
“This is a place where miracles happen on an everyday basis,” Allende-Ruiz said. “I’ve witnessed a lot of patients coming in on stretchers without being able to walk, and then having the pleasure of saying goodbye to them and seeing them walk out of here, waving with a hand they couldn’t move when they came in.
“The team here really appreciates that and works toward that. They really love our patients, and our outcomes as a rehab hospital are amazing. The goal for every patient we receive here is to discharge them home so they can get back to the community. In 80 percent of the cases, that’s what we do. Out of every 10 patients we receive, eight of them go back to the community,” he added.
Getting patients back on their feet again is of the utmost importance. Sometimes it even hits close to home, as it did with one patient that Allende-Ruiz was acquainted with already through basketball. A man who had suffered massive injuries and who needed intensive rehab.
“Officer Carlos Rosario, a Florida Highway Patrol officer that was on duty; he was hit by another car,” Allende-Ruiz said. “He went through a horrible accident. He had to go to an acute care hospital. They saved his life. He was brought to us. Today was his first day back with the Highway Patrol.”
Encompass Health has 60 beds, with between 120 and 140 admissions a month. The average length of stay varies from seven to 14 days. Usually they have around 50 patients in-house at any given time. Conditions treated include heart attacks, strokes, brain injuries, amputations, burns, multiple sclerosis, respiratory problems, joint replacement, neurological conditions, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s Disease and others.
The nurses are encouraged to pursue specialized rehabilitation education and several of the nurses are certified CRRN’s (Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse). There are in-house doctors who see the patients daily. The facility has a multitude of state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment that goes beyond what most regular hospitals and skilled nursing homes have. There are semi-private rooms as well as private rooms. The hospital has the latest technology in hospital beds which alert the desk if the patient gets up. The showers are all set up to accommodate people experiencing mobility issues.
While there are many rehab facilities, it is important to note that Encompass Health also is a hospital. They encourage family members to be a part of the healing process. They can be in the room with them, in the gym, and they also are invited to be part of the team process with the physicians and nurses.
Luis Aguiar, Business Development director, said he enjoys his work there. For him, it is more than a job, it is a passion.
“This is my tenth anniversary of being with the hospital,” Aguiar said. “I’m a physician as a background, and what I did all my life is to treat people and help them go back to their prior level of function.
“Being here, working with this enthusiastic group and fighting for those families that don’t know what the rehab business is all about, bringing them here and encouraging them that this is the best place to go to get back to their prior level of function and incorporate them back into the community and what they do every day is definitely something you need to have the passion for,” he added.
He said people plan their daily routine, they plan what hospital to go to have their baby, but nobody thinks about going to a rehab hospital after they have an accident because nobody plans to have an accident.
“We work as an interdisciplinary team,” Aguiar added. “That’s what makes us the best at what we do. We are part of one of the largest acute rehabilitation providers in the United States.”
Marla Fant, the marketing coordinator, offered advice to patients and their families.
“It’s really important for people to do their research, to understand they have rights, and they have a choice,” Fant said. “They need to know what their rehabilitation options are and they need to know that not all rehabilitation is the same. We specialize in rehabilitation programs and services and that is our only focus. We know that there is a window of time when a person has had an event— they’re functioning at a certain level and something bad happens — there’s a window of time in which they can make their maximum functional gains, and that’s where our heart is. That’s what we do, every day, day in and day out. Come and take a tour.”
Encompass Health is located at 20601 Old Cutler Rd. in Cutler Bay. For information call 305-251-3800.