Glen Cove Hospital’s rehabilitation center was ranked 47th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2022-2023.” Newsweek ranked the hospital among “America’s Best Physical Rehabilitation Centers 2022.” That’s all great news for the hospital, but even better news for its patients.
“The hospital is in a renaissance,” Executive Director Kerri Anne Scanlon said. “The hospital used to lose money. We will break even this year, and we will make money next year. Any time a hospital is doing well, it gives back to the community in new services.”
To give even more to its patients, Glen Cove spent $11 million on a new physical medicine and rehabilitation unit, which opened in November. The 15,500-square-foot space, on the third floor, has ample room for the treatment of patients with neurological conditions, including brain injury, stroke and Parkinson’s disease. It has 28 beds, 12 of which are for Parkinson’s patients.
Patients come to the unit for an intensive rehabilitation program to restore what they’ve lost. Ninety percent of them are from Northwell hospitals. The other 10 percent, Scanlon said, are from Memorial Sloane Kettering and Columbia Presbyterian. The rehab center is a “destination center,” she said.
“Patients accepted here in our acute-care rehabilitation have physical therapy, occupation therapy and speech pathology, a minimum of three hours a day with the specialties,” Scanlon explained. “They receive therapy with nurses, and are co-managed by our physiologists and medical doctors.”
Two other floors of the hospital are designated for rehabilitation, but in the new unit, most of the rooms — 24 — are private. Only two others are double rooms. On the other rehab floors, three patients may share a room. The third-floor rooms have windows and private bathrooms, and some have couches.
“The ability to care for patients in private rooms reduces the risks of infection and gives the patient the most calming, holistic environment,” Scanlon said.
The unit, although immaculate, isn’t sterile in appearance. Great care has been taken to create a spa-like atmosphere, with soothing colors, accent mosaic tiles and unframed paintings. A simulated apartment is available for patients to practice day-to-day activities, like getting out of a bathtub or using a stove.
They also have access to two physical therapy and occupational gyms and three large rooms for private speech therapy, neuropsychology and consultation. There are two nursing stations, so the nurses are close to all of the patients. The main station is equipped with telemetry that provides around-the-clock monitoring of patients’ cardiac condition.
“Equipped with cutting-edge therapies, the new rehabilitation unit meets the growing needs of our patient community with complex, high-acuity brain and neurological disorders,” Dr. Susan Maltster, chair of the hospital’s department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, said.
Among the innovations is a 3D immersive virtual reality system to motivate patients to stay engaged in rehab and focus on repetitive tasks. Patients wearing a headset with sensors interact with different virtual environments.
“It addresses patients’ performance with specific tasks, and addresses patients’ impairments,” explained Angela Cirami, director of rehabilitative services, adding that there are 32 alternative environments. “A pinball game is one environment, where the speed of the pinball coming at you can be adjusted. Patients really enjoy using (the system), and it helps them.”
The reality system can be used to help improve a patient’s coordination, strength, ability to grab or reach, and speech.
“With all of our patients, we focus not on their disability but help their ability,” Maltster explained. “We help them adjust to a new way of life, one with good quality.”
Dr. Lyubov Rubin, a neuro-rehabilitation physician, leads the hospital’s Parkinson’s rehabilitation program. Thanks to a generous donation from a benefactor, Rubin has arranged for members of the Brooklyn-based Mark Morris Dance Group to teach dance classes twice a week to Parkinson’s patients. The dancers encourage patients to combine movement, music and creative expression, and caregivers are welcomed to join in. Patients enjoy dancing, Rubin said, but are also offered a social outlet. Parkinson’s patients often feel isolated by their disability.
The benefactor initially agreed to fund one year of classes, but after taking a class with the Parkinson patients and loving it, they extended the program for another year. And patients can continue to benefit from the program by using the CD of the class given to them when they go home.
“Research has shown that dance intervention helps,” Rubin said. “Music unlocks their potential. And the dancing gives people hope.”
During the Parkinson’s program, which is two-weeks in length, patients also receive physical and occupational therapy and engage in creative arts. Every patient has a different goal, which can be as simple as taking a shower alone or feeding themselves. It’s the therapists’ job to identify those goals and help the patients accomplish them.
Parkinson’s is a progressive illness, but, Rubin said, the rehab team can help patients improve their quality of life by modifying the disease’s progression.
In addition to helping as many patients as she can, Rubin said she would like to eventually open the unit to clinical research by Northwell experts in the field.
“What surprises me is how incredibly resilient people are,” Rubin said. “They can be incapacitated and not have walked for a year and lost hope. This team can unlock their potential. I’ve seen one patient pick up a guitar and sing, which he couldn’t do for years.”