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  • St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital reimagined and expanded to help meet changing community needs for patient care
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St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital reimagined and expanded to help meet changing community needs for patient care

Rehab therapy manager David Faris leads a tour.
By Christine Myron, News and Community
December 8, 2023

On a crisp fall day, a ribbon cutting drew a crowd on the third floor of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital at the Elks Medical Plaza in Boise to celebrate a newly-expanded inpatient rehabilitation unit. St. Luke’s employees and community partners gathered as Shelly Jensen, chief operating and nursing officer for St. Luke’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, shared opening remarks. 

“The IRU is where you see miracles happen,” Jensen said. “We get the opportunity to spend time with patients as they relearn how to walk and talk.”

Jensen, along with rehabilitation care leaders and colleagues, worked diligently to realign the second and third floors of the St. Luke’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit to focus solely on acute rehabilitation services.

Previously, both acute and subacute rehabilitative care were offered. An assessment of community needs showed an increased demand for acute care, with subacute care being offered through other community providers like skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

Showing a gait and safety system.

This fall, the St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital, with its capacity doubled, welcomed its first patients to the reimagined unit.

“We see patients who go through an unexpected life event generally — a stroke, car accident, some trauma, brain injury — and we’re able to take care of them after their hospital stay,” Jensen said. “Our goal and mission is to help patients get home after a life event, so we work with them, with our therapists, our nursing staff, and we work toward whatever they need to rehabilitate to get home.”

The evolution and reimagining of health care delivery have become more common and necessary given Idaho’s rapid growth of families with children, an increase in the aging population and an increased need for more medically complex patient care. 

The IRU is one example of a recent shift in Idaho to meet changing community health care needs.

“By streamlining our services and resources, we are also providing better alignment with our system’s strategy, accreditation, quality and compliance. We continue to be dedicated to evolving the way we deliver care to best meet the health needs of the communities we serve,” said Nolan Hoffer, administrator of rehabilitative services for St. Luke’s Health System.

Previously, when all IRU beds were full, patients would be referred to another facility in the community. This meant some patients did not have immediate access to the same specialized care, therapies and resources available at St. Luke’s IRU.

As part of celebrating the unit’s recent expansion, facility tours were offered.

David Faris, rehab therapy manager and 23-year employee at St. Luke’s led one of the tours, illustrating the value of specialized spaces to deliver care based on a patient’s needs.

“These rooms here are speech therapy rooms,” Faris noted as he pointed to three separate rooms. “If someone is working on cognition, speaking, swallowing, it takes a lot of concentration and no distraction.”

Along the tour, Faris also pointed out a rehabilitative care kitchen and bathroom specifically designed to help people learn new ways to navigate common surroundings after injury.

In the physical therapy gym, a sophisticated body weight support harness was demonstrated. The state-of-the-art Vector Gait and Safety System is just six months old and has been impactful for patients learning to find balance and walk again.

Rehabilitation Certification through CARF, an independent nonprofit accreditor of health and human services, ensures that St. Luke’s rehabilitative services meet rigorous rules and regulations.

“There are a lot of things to go through and we have to look at the special skill set of our staff, all of our competencies, so we worked through all of that to get to where we are today," Jensen said. "The staff are truly amazing and highly trained here."

About The Author

Christine Myron is the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.