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Choosing an Inpatient Rehab

Choosing an Inpatient Rehab

Written by SMH Digital Content Editor Ann Key

When major illness or injury strike, the journey to recovery may require multiple stops along the way. One of those is often an inpatient rehabilitation center. If you’re like most people, you’ve never given “acute-inpatient rehabilitation” much thought — unless you or a loved one needed it previously. 

In Florida, patients and their families can choose the rehab program that’s right for them, but the search can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. Knowing what to look for and what questions to ask can help you navigate the selection process to find the rehab program that best matches your unique medical needs, treatment priorities and required level of care.

To help you navigate the selection process, we’ve put together a checklist of general questions that will help narrow down the list of candidates. Once you have a short-list, schedule a tour at your top two or three picks before making a final decision. 

(Don’t need inpatient rehab services today? Bookmark this page for quick reference should the need ever arise, or do a little research now to know your options and save time later.)

1. Is the facility accredited by a reputable organization? To earn accreditation, facilities must meet strict standards for care, quality and support, and must pass regular on-site evaluations. Accreditation shows that the healthcare provider is committed to offering top-notch care and service and strives for continual improvement. In the U.S., the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is the accrediting body for rehabilitation facilities. If the rehab is hospital based, look for accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations as well. 

2. Does the facility offer specialized rehabilitation programs for your condition? While a facility may offer a varied list of inpatient rehab services, be sure that it is certified and has a specialty program for your condition. Healthcare providers at accredited rehab centers have special training and certifications. 

3. How qualified is the staff? Are board-certified medical staff available at all times? Are the registered nurses certified in rehabilitation and experienced in acute care? 

4. Does the program offer care and service for every stage of rehabilitation and recovery? As recovery progresses, a patient will transition from inpatient rehab to various other levels of care, including skilled nursing-home care with therapy, home-based therapy or outpatient rehabilitation. Choosing a facility that offers services for all stages helps ensure a smooth progression and continued care through the recovery process. 

5. How are treatment plans developed? Are the patient and his/her caregivers included in the care planning? Successful treatment plans are tailored to each individual patient and are crafted with input from a multi-disciplinary care team, the patient and the patient’s family or caregivers. Care plans should be re-evaluated throughout the rehab and recovery process. 

6. How much time is dedicated to individualized therapy? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires at least three hours per day of therapy, five days a week for admission to an acute-care inpatient rehab facility. 

7. Does the facility have adequate rehab equipment and therapy tools to support your recovery? 

8. Is family/caregiver participation in the patient’s rehab encouraged? Are caregivers offered instruction about what the patient will need when they return home? 

9. Rehabilitation patients often need mental and emotional healing, in addition to healing the body. Does the facility offer coping and support services for the patient and family? 

10. How clean and comfortable is the facility? Are there outdoor patient visiting and therapy areas? Is the building easily accessible, and are all areas easy to navigate for various mobility aids?

Score Card: How does the Rehab Pavilion Measure Up?

If you’re considering Sarasota Memorial’s new Rehabilitation Pavilion for inpatient therapy, read on to see how the facility measures up to the crucial-question checklist. The numbered answers correspond to the questions list above. 

1. Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) and its Rehabilitation Pavilion are dually accredited by the Joint Commission and DNV, which is an acute-hospital accreditor. The Rehab Pavilion also is fully accredited by CARF and is CARF certified as a Stroke Specialty Program provider. Our Comprehensive Stroke Center has been nationally designated as the most advanced stroke care provider in the region. 

Rehabilitation2. The SMH Rehab program offers the region’s most comprehensive slate of inpatient rehab services, including specialty services for stroke, brain and spinal-cord injuries, cancer recovery, lymphedema management, speech language / voice therapy, orthopedic rehabilitation, and neurological rehab for patients with Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or other neuro-muscular disorders. Our multi-disciplinary rehab team includes certified stroke specialists, hand therapists and neurological rehab clinicians, and the only doctor in southwest Florida who is board-certified in spinal-cord injury medicine.

3. SMH’s inpatient rehab program is medically supervised by board-certified physical medicine and rehab physicians and is staffed around the clock by highly skilled rehab professionals. It is the only hospital-based rehab center in Sarasota County, making it the only one that can provide rehab patients 24/7 emergency access to critical hospital services and medical specialists. Having all services and specialists under one roof means that SMH rehab patients never have to be transferred to an offsite facility for care.

4. SMH’s integrated healthcare system allows patients to seamlessly transition from acute inpatient rehabilitation to home health care or outpatient rehab, with continued care and support for optimal recovery. Both SMH’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and its Home Health Care program are rated among the nation’s best, with 5-Star ratings from CMS

5. At the Rehab Pavilion, treatment plans are created with input from the patient’s entire care team, and the team meets daily to evaluate patient goals and progress. In addition to the patient and his/her caregivers or family, SMH care teams are led by a physiatrist and comprise specialists from various medical disciplines. Care-team members often include a rehab registered nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, psychologist, speech/language pathologist, nutritionist and a case manager. Pastoral and vocational counselors also may provide support. 

6. Inpatient Rehab guests receive at least three hours of individualized therapy each day, as recommended by CMS. 

7. The Rehab Pavilion features the region’s most advanced rehabilitative tools and resources, including the Bioness Integrated Therapy Systems, Bioness foot-drop and hand systems, the Bioness gait and safety system (with body weight support), the EksoGT wearable exoskeleton, an outdoor mobility garden, a home model and other interactive tools that enable patients to practice daily-living skills. SMH also utilizes videostroboscopy and Lee Silverman Voice Therapy, such as LSVT Loud and LSVT Big. 

8. SMH strives to help patients return to their normal lives as quickly as their recovery allows. A successful recovery and transition back to home life requires that the patient’s family or caregivers take an active part in the patient’s rehab care. They are integral parts of the patient’s recovery during and after rehab.

9. Sarasota Memorial offers a variety of support groups for rehab patients and their families/caregivers, and the patient’s care team includes a pastoral counselor and psychologist. 

10. The Rehab Pavilion—with 54, all-private inpatient rooms—opened its doors in April 2017, making it the newest inpatient rehab facility in the area. Among the outdoor therapy areas, the Pavilion’s mobility garden is a highlight. The building’s interior and exterior were designed with mobility-challenged patients in mind, optimizing access and navigation for those using all types of mobility aids. The Pavilion also has a dedicated entrance and parking area.

Get to Know Us

For more information on Sarasota Memorial’s comprehensive rehabilitation programs or to schedule a tour of the Rehab Pavilion, call 941-724-2620. Click here to experience a virtual tour of the Rehab Pavilion.


Ann KeyAs Sarasota Memorial's digital content editor, Ann Key manages the health care system's Healthe-Matters blog and its Ask An Expert and TopTips video series, as well as other social media and wellness content channels. If you have a health question you need answered or a wellness topic you'd like a local expert to weigh in on, please email Ann at

Posted: May 31, 2017,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Key