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Specialty Hospitals Meet Needs

February 21, 2011
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - From rehabilitation services to long-term care, Upper Ohio Valley residents have several specialty hospitals in the area to meet their needs.

Acuity Specialty Hospital-Bellaire is located within Belmont Community Hospital. The facility opened in January 2010 and has been busy over the past year.

Acuity focuses on long-term care patients, particularly those needing anywhere from 20 to 30 days of care.

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Acuity Specialty Hospital at Belmont Community Hospital in Bellaire is one of several specialty hospitals in the area.

In Wheeling, Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital has been seeing to patients for more than 30 years. Peterson has grown to be a leading provider in the realm of rehabilitation.

Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital, a division of Guardian Elder Care, continues to provide the residents of the Ohio Valley with needed rehabilitation services.

Belmont Community Hospital also operates a rehabilitation unit within the hospital.

Fact Box

What specialty hospitals are located in the area?

Acuity Specialty Hospital operates locations in Bellaire at Belmont Community Hospital and in Steubenville. Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital operates a specialty rehabilitation hospital in Wheeling, and Belmont Community Hospital also features rehabilitation services for its patients. All three operations cater to specific patient groups.


In May 1979, Peterson, then owned by Ohio Valley Medical Center, opened its doors to patients in need of intense rehabilitation. Dr. Martin D. Reiter, medical director in 1979, assisted in the opening of the rehabilitation program at Peterson. It was the first rehabilitation program of its kind in the state of West Virginia.

The unit initially opened with nine beds and has grown to 22 beds in 30 years. In the past, most patients who sustained a devastating accident or disease had ended up in a nursing home with little to no hope. Peterson opened the rehabilitation unit to enhance, upgrade and centralize rehabilitation services. Mary Cobb was the first patient who was admitted to the comprehensive rehabilitation program.

Peterson has undergone a number of changes over the past three decades. In 2004, Peterson was purchased by Guardian Elder Care from OVMC. Guardian Elder Care has 22 rehabilitation and nursing facilities located in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

When the Peterson rehabilitation unit opened, the average length of stay on the unit was 30 to 45 days. The average length of stay today on the unit has dramatically decreased to 12 to 15 days, depending on the severity of the disability. Today, Peterson utilizes a functional independent measuring system that allows physicians to compare patients with similar diagnoses all over the nation. Using this system, Peterson therapy staff can compare patient outcomes with national standards.

In the beginning of 2009, Peterson's therapy department was trained to implement the Accelerated Care Plus program into the therapy regimen. The program has been used successfully for many years to decrease pain, inflammation and edema associated with a broad range of prevalent conditions.

This medical technology also enables Peterson's therapists to treat more complex conditions. Use of ACP therapies can improve muscle disuse atrophy, promote soft tissue healing through increased circulation and improve neuromuscular control in patients with orthopedic and neurological diagnoses.

Officials said Peterson Rehabilitation Hospital prides itself on accepting adult patients (18 or older) who have sustained injury in a motor vehicle accident or other type of accident, stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, major multiple trauma, amputation, joint replacement, neurological dysfunction and other complications that require an intense rehabilitation regimen.

Patients in need can be admitted directly from a physician's office if they are failing outpatient or home care therapies or if they are just not at their functional potential. Patients also may be referred by a social worker or discharge planner at the acute hospital.

Patients must have the potential to participate in a minimum of three hours of therapy a day to meet the requirements of the rehabilitation program.

Acuity Specialty Hospital-Bellaire

The village of Bellaire received a $4 million annual economic boost in 2010 when it was announced that Acuity Specialty Hospital-Bellaire has located on the second floor of Belmont Community Hospital.

The issue of Belmont Community Hospital's future has been in question over the past several years. Wheeling Hospital officials said the addition of Acuity means Belmont will be able to grow - and there could be more growth in the future.

Acuity has brought about 75 new jobs to the area. Belmont Community Hospital also invested $1.2 million into renovations in anticipation of the move.

Ronald L. Violi, chief executive officer for Wheeling Hospital, has indicated that Wheeling Hospital intends to put more emphasis on its Bellaire operations.

"Our intention is to bring more of the same to Belmont Community Hospital," he said during the 2010 Acuity announcement. "We're looking to put more services and money into the hospital, and this is long overdue. There hasn't been any money put into the hospital for years and years.

"At one time, this was a busy hospital. But people didn't devote the resources to the hospital that they should have."

Acuity Specialty Hospital-Bellaire is owned and operated by Acuity Specialty Hospitals-Ohio Valley.

The long-term care facility accepts patients with complex medical problems that require intensive, specialized care for extended periods of time - typically 20 to 30 days, according to hospital officials.

In addition to paying rental fees to Belmont Community Hospital, Acuity will purchase therapy, laboratory, imaging, surgery, pharmacy, dietary, housekeeping and maintenance services from the hospital.

About 2 percent of patients admitted to hospitals need extended care. Acuity works in collaboration with facilities such as Wheeling Hospital to move those patients to long-term care once their condition has stabilized.

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