New Mercy Health Hospital to Focus Entirely on Rehabilitation

LIBERTY, Ohio – Mercy Health and Lifepoint Rehabilitation on Thursday broke ground on a 60-bed hospital on Belmont Avenue, a combined effort to provide all the resources possible to get residents back home following serious injuries requiring rehabilitative care.

The 66,000-square-foot, two-story Mercy Health Rehabilitation Hospital may be ready to open before the end of 2024. The cost of the project is not being released at this time.

“This is a very exciting project,” said Dr. John Luellen, president of Mercy Health – Youngstown and Lorain. “This really allows us to increase our ability to serve the community with both more depth and breadth. We’re increasing our capacity from 22 acute rehab beds to 60 acute rehab beds, and we’re doing it in a facility that is purpose built rather than a repurposed hospital space.”

The facility will be available for those needing acute care and rehabilitation to get back home following a stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation or other critical situation.

“This really serves a broad array of people with both neurologic and orthopedic problems,” Luellen said. “Some of those people may have complex spinal cord problems, or they may be survivors of strokes, or they could be people with complex orthopedic problems after surgery or trauma.”

Currently, such patients are served in a 22-bed facility located in the hospital, but Luellen said it does not serve the needs of the hospital or the patients as much as is needed.

“We see that there is a need to expand the services here, and the ability then to take not just patients here locally, but also expand our reach in the area and to grow not just to be a local program, but a regional program,” said Dave Stark, vice president of operations for Lifepoint Rehabilitation.

The new hospital will have 60 all-private rooms, multidisciplinary therapy gymnasiums outfitted with the latest therapeutic technologies and outdoor courtyard spaces. Patients will have access to a transitional living apartment. Simulating daily living tasks, the apartment will help prepare residents and their families caring for them.

Those will include a 12-bed, secured brain injury unit, providing private dining, a therapy gym and other specialty needs for patients recovering from strokes or other brain trauma.

The facility’s plans include rooms for physical, occupational and speech therapy, nutritional services and a dedicated pharmacy, as well as a specially designed space to treat dialysis patients.

“These patients are getting physical therapy, occupational therapy, which is a lot of just taking care of yourself – the ability to brush your teeth, the ability to tie your shoes, different things of that sort, which can be a struggle post traumatic injuries,” Stark said. “We also have speech therapists to work with folks who have lost the ability to swallow.”

An artist’s rendering of the new Mercy Health Rehabilitation Hospital.

Stark said the hospital will have 24-7 nursing care and physicians to manage medical needs.

The location of the site is ideal, near interstate 80 and on Belmont Avenue, repurposing another paved lot that had fallen into disrepair and filling with weeds.

“We’re really trying to expand this notion of Belmont Avenue being a health care corridor for us,” said Luellen, who pointed to the proximity of both Mercy Health’s Youngstown hospital and the former VA clinic Mercy Health repurposed into the Belmont Medical Center and opened in March.

The location also is ideal for many patients and their families. Stark spoke about the importance of loved ones to the patient’s rehabilitation efforts and success.

“An important part of getting better is having your loved ones there, your friends and your families be able to visit and just encourage you moving toward your independence and get you home,” Stark said, adding most patients will be there a little over two weeks. But they want to make sure they are prepared to take care of themselves and their family members are knowledgeable and comfortable with assisting in their care.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us and for Mercy Health. The partnership is amazing,” Stark said. “The team we are working with here is very invested in taking care of the patients, and they saw the benefit to the area and to their patients to grow this level of care.” 

From left are Don Kline, chief operating officer of Bon Secours Mercy Health; Dr. John Luellen, president of Mercy Health Youngstown and Lorain; Russ Bailey, president of Lifepoint Rehabilitation and Lifepoint Behavioral Health; John Capple, market director of Neurosciences and Rehabilitation at Mercy Health; Kathy Harley, president of Mercy Health St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital; Cleve Haralson, senior vice president of Joint Ventures & Strategic Services at Lifepoint; Dave Stark, vice president of operations at Lifepoint; and Bill Hanlon, chief financial officer at Mercy Health.

Stark added that Mercy Health knows the importance of creating a bigger space and bringing in the latest equipment and the latest practices and other care that Lifepoint can help deliver as a national company. Lifepoint Rehabilitation, a business unit of Tennessee-based Lifepoint Health, has more than 40 freestanding inpatient rehabilitation facilities, as well as joint ventures at more than 250 hospital-based rehabilitation units.

This is the second project in the partnership between Mercy Health and Lifepoint Rehabilitation, which announced earlier this year plans to construct and operate a 72-bed behavioral health facility.

Massaro Construction Group of Pittsburgh was selected as the general contractor for the project. Ready to get started next week, Chris Fiumara, vice president of Massaro, said at the height of the construction project he anticipates 130 people will be working in various capacities on this project.

“We’re really just thankful to be here,” Fiumara said. “As they mentioned during the groundbreaking how this is going to improve health outcomes for people in the community, this is really important for us because we’re now going to have jobs for the subcontractors in this community as well. So not only is it an impact for people health-wise, but it’s a financial impact as well.”

Pictured at top: Dr. John Luellen, president of Mercy Health Youngstown and Lorain.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.