Decision puts rehab at medical communitys forefront

February 5, 2012
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The Mary Free Bed Hospital board’s decision announced this week to invest $48 million in new facilities, upgrades, technology and patient care offers this community another major entry in the medical specialties business and new opportunity as a medical care destination. The scope of the project is a commanding statement in its commitment to this region with its more than 100-year expertise in rehabilitation services in all aspects of patient need.

The hospital announced it will upgrade its therapy areas, create all-private patient rooms, consolidate care services under one roof, and build a new 114,600-square-foot facility adjacent to its current location. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the four-story construction project will be held later this year, and the new facility is expected to open late next year.

“We are making a significant investment to expand and renovate our Wealthy Street campus in order to better meet the needs of patients and their families. From creating all-private patient rooms to upgrading family accommodations to adding new state-of-the-art equipment, Mary Free Bed is working to enhance the outcomes of our patients,” said Kent Riddle, the hospital’s president.

The Mary Free Bed Hospital Guild in the last year resisted a bear hug from its giant neighbor to the north, even as Spectrum Health built out rehabilitation wards at its Blodgett campus to capture the full-range of patient care dollars. It was a duplicative project, especially given Mary Free Bed’s long and well-established reputation for those services.

The announcement of expansion and upgrades at Mary Free Bed is an important factor for this community and to those coming to it for rehabilitation specialties, further establishing the hospital’s commitment to its specialty and to expansion of its range of services. These include skilled nursing and technological investments. Riddle noted the expansion does not come on a whim, but is the result of successful endeavors to expand its client base.

Even as Spectrum determined it would no longer use Mary Free Bed services, the rehabilitation hospital reached out through partnerships, not only with Metro Health in Byron Center and University of Michigan Medical Center, but to hospitals in the Chicago area and beyond. Riddle reported that the hospital has seen more than 10 percent growth in services in less than one year, providing the footing for its expansion and continuation of its specialized work and research.

“This is a vote of confidence,” Riddle told the Business Journal. “And our board understood that when they were making the decision that we’re going to plant our stake bigger and deeper in the ground and really going to invest in the future.”

The decision is strategic not only for Mary Free Bed, but for this region, as well.

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