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Sutter completes new rehab institute building

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press-Tribune
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It looks like a crosswalk. It even beeps like a crosswalk. But the controlled pedestrian crossing outside a new building at Sutter Roseville Medical Center won’t ever see a car drive through its path. Instead, this life-size piece of street hardware – located next to a miniature putting green, basketball court, a “stairs to nowhere” and several types of ground surfaces – is part of how Sutter Roseville Medical Center is aiming to improve the lives of those recovering from trauma, brain injuries and all sorts of disabling conditions. Officials last week announced the completion of the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute, a 40-bed building that completes – for now, anyway – the health giant’s decade-long expansion project at its Roseville campus. Hospital administrators say it’s the most advanced rehabilitation center in Northern California, and will attract patients from as far as Nevada and Oregon. Some amenities, such as the “outdoor therapeutic area,” are believed to be a first. “As patients get closer to going home, they’re going to be challenged by coordination and balance issues,” said Janice White, the administrative director of the institute, explaining the menagerie of everyday objects, including gravel, dirt, and grass surfaces, that patients will have to learn to negotiate. “Walking through sand is not like walking on pavement, and they have to learn that.” Rehabilitation centers aim to help some patients regain motor and coordination skills. Sutter’s long operated a 12-bed rehab unit at its facility in Auburn. It will close following the opening in several weeks of the 55,000-square-foot Roseville site, which will employ 75. “Before, we were not able to take high-level spinal cord and severe trauma brain injury patients,” said Dr. Karanjit Basrai, the institute’s assistant medical director. “This one is state of the art.” Hospital staff estimates anywhere from 8 to 10 percent of SRMC patients require rehabilitation services, which can come after everything from a stroke to a car accident or skateboarding crash. In fact, most of those admitted are males ages 16 to 23 years old, White said. The average stay is less than a month. While patients might not recover to their peak level of functionality, the goal is to optimize their quality of life as much as possible with a team approach that enlists occupational, speech and physical therapists, registered nurses and other support staff. The $80 million institute is the latest addition to the Sutter campus in Roseville, which saw several other high-profile projects completed recently. The list includes an emergency department expansion, expanded birth center and new bed tower. “When we first started here, the hospital had 185 beds. This will bring us to 399,” said Pat Brady, Sutter Roseville’s chief executive officer. “We’re going to take a little breather right now.” “I am so thrilled to see this project, not only for the city of Roseville but also for the region,” Roseville Mayor Jim Gray said at a completion ceremony last week, amid multicolored medicine balls in the institute’s 3,000-square-foot therapy gym. Back in the outdoor therapeutic area, a shoulder-height raised planter bed is ready for patients to add to it. They won’t only be beautifying the area, but also re-learning to partake in one of life’s delights. “We can fix the arms and legs, but if we can’t get them back to what their passion is, we haven’t done our job,” White said.