The News of Orange County recently published an article about the recent renovations to the UNC Hospital Hillsborough Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Center (AIRC).
Located on the seventh-floor bed tower at UNC Memorial Hospital, the AIRC helps optimize patient recovery for a broad scope of conditions, including spinal cord injury, stroke, brain injury, amputation, musculoskeletal disorders, and neurological conditions. The rehab floor offers 42,000 square feet holding 30 patient beds, two gym areas, individual treatment rooms, and a transitional living apartment. The team of Rehabilitation Nurses, Physiatrists (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians), Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, Care Managers, and Recreational Therapists work together to improve, restore or maintain functional abilities promoting independent living for patients with disabilities.
The AIRC becomes a home away from home for some. On average, patients remain on the floor for more than two weeks, and are required to participate in three hours of intensive therapy per day. While being stationed on the main campus has its advantages, the seventh-floor bed tower, built in in 1975, also has its drawbacks.
“One of the [major] challenges we have right now is that we have shared suites,” explained Rehab Nursing Manager Lesley-Anne Bandy. With 12 private rooms and 18 semi-private suites, the pandemic has magnified the issues of shared spaces. Increased visitation restrictions have been required for the rehab floor throughout the pandemic, leading to the concern for patients’ progress towards recovery and overall mental health. Over the years, the rehab team has continuously battled frustrations regarding accessibility for patients and visitors and has struggled to expand services due to limited space.
Meanwhile, the main campus as a whole continues to evolve. Improvements are being made floor by floor, while the new 357,000-square-foot surgical tower is being built, expected to open in 2024.