Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 14, 2013

If you look at the origins of the word “rehabilitate” it means “to restore dignity.” Todd Bennett, administrator of Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast, said that restoring a patient’s dignity is the goal of the shiny facility.
The new rehabilitation center, located at 487 Lake Concord Road, Concord, will open its doors to patients on Monday.
It is the only facility of its kind in the region. Bennett said Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast aims to bring a higher level of care to patients with special therapy needs, such as those who have suffered from a stroke or a spinal or traumatic brain injury.
Bennett said Carolinas Medical Center picked the location because it was close to patients.
“It’s all about convenience,” Bennett said.
Previously, patients in need of specialized rehab were forced to drive an hour or more down to Charlotte — a distance that also impeded visits from family and friends. Now they can seek care closer to home and family can be there every step of the way. While there is no family housing on the grounds, Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast is willing to arrange a place to stay for out-of-town family members on a case-by-case basis.
Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast will have a staff of full-time doctors, nurses, and therapists to try and keep patients with the same doctor throughout their entire journey to recovery.
One of the most important aspects of Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast are its therapy-free zones. These are relaxed areas designed to help patients forget they’re in a medical facility — a prayer garden, a small chapel, a comfortable corner with chairs and a television.
“You don’t have to feel like you’re in the hospital all the time,” Bennett said.
To help patients feel more at home, most of the windows in the building are floor-to-ceiling to allow for natural daylight. The center features two gardens, and the default television channel plays music specifically chosen to reduce pain and anxiety. The facility’s 40 rooms are all private. It is, Bennett said, designed to make patients feel comfortable, human.
The 120 staff members at Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast are determined to make sure patients are ready to tackle the real world before they leave. That’s why the facility features a therapy garden complete with ramps, curbs, stairs and gravel. In addition, there is a transitional living apartment on site, to help patients simulate moving around a non-hospital environment.
“It’s one thing to be able to walk. It’s another thing to be able to walk to the kitchen and make yourself lunch,” Bennett said.
Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast also features a seating clinic where patients in need of a wheelchair can have one specifically fitted to provide them the most comfort.
Many of the staff members are also employed right across the road, at Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast. Bennett said he chose to use overlapping staff for two reasons. The first is that he believes CMC-NorthEast has an excellent staff. The second is to cut down on health care costs — both to the nation and the patient.
When Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast opens, it will begin taking a few patients at a time. The facility is currently licensed to fill 30 beds, but Bennett plans to have the facility at full capacity by October.

Rebecca Rider is a Catawba College senior and an intern at the Salisbury Post.