State approves $119 million rehabilitation hospital

Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital and VCU Health received approval last Tuesday for the joint construction of the $119 million Sheltering Arms Rehab Institute, a 114-bed rehabilitation hospital in Goochland County.

The hospital will treat patients with spinal cord or brain injuries, stroke victims and various neurological diseases and disorders.

The two health systems announced their intention to construct the hospital on a 25-acre site in the West Creek Medical Park off Broad Street Road in October and submitted an application for a certificate of public need shortly after.

Virginia’s chief health official issued the certificate for the project last Wednesday, according to a joint press release by the partner organizations. According to Sheltering Arms CEO Mary Zweifel, construction is expected to begin in fall 2017.

“We have a team from VCU and Sheltering Arms (…) sitting on this selection committee and looking at the various different components,” Zweifel said. “We’re trying to get that selection made so we can begin working on a final plan for the hospital.”

The project will consolidate beds from VCU Health System inpatient rehabilitation facilities throughout Richmond and from Sheltering Arms hospitals in Hanover County and Midlothian.

“We’re bringing together advanced technology, research and evidenced-based clinical care in a spacious, green setting that will facilitate our joint goal of enhanced outcomes for our patients,” Zweifel said.

Sheltering Arms spokesman Stephanie Sulmer said the new site is easily accessible from the highway and will have ample parking.

“The goal is to create a destination rehabilitation hospital for the state of Virginia and beyond,” Sulmer said.

The institute will also serve as a teaching hospital, according to Marsha Rappley, CEO of VCU Health System and vice president of VCU Health Sciences.

“(Its mission will be) to advance clinical education across all the rehabilitation disciplines and to support translational research in the field of rehabilitation that will advance knowledge in the industry and immediately benefit patients,” Rappley said.

The next step is to review and approve design and operational plans for a proposed fall 2020 opening.

Jim Thomma, Contributing Writer

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