Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jul 2007
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (TX)
Copyright: 2007 Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Author: Heather Ann White


Hospital In Calallen Sets Grand Opening For Middle Of August

Two months ago, Marvin Unger was ready to die.

The 77-year-old had lost his wife, was depressed and had been
diagnosed with bladder and prostate cancer.

He suffered from memory loss and had stopped eating and walking when
his family encouraged him to enter Coastal Plains Hospital, a physical
rehabilitation and behavioral hospital, to recover from his surgeries.

The facility, which took its first patient June 6, offers services
including physical therapy and geriatric psychiatry to adults 18 and
older. It also offers drug detoxification services.

Unger worked with a speech therapist who helped him learn to swallow
again, a physical therapist to help him walk with the help of a walker
and occupational therapists to reteach him everyday tasks such as
cooking and washing clothes.

Now, Unger is close to walking with a cane, has mastered baking and
secretly practices his golf swing when the nurses aren't looking. His
family will take him home today to a new condo in Corpus Christi.

"I hope to be self-reliant," Unger said Wednesday while making
brownies in the facility's kitchen. "Before, I didn't take care of
myself. Things kind of fell apart when my wife died and I came apart
with it. I was in bad shape. ... She was my whole life."

The hospital, which is leasing 20,000 square feet from the Corpus
Christi Medical Center's Northwest Regional campus, is planning an
August grand opening. The Texas Department of Health will review the
facility a final time before the hospital can open to its full 48-bed
capacity, said CEO Patrick Flannery.

"Prior to this new hospital, (Christus) Spohn was the only provider of
geriatric rehab services," Flannery said. "This is very important and
vital for the community."

The hospital's geriatric psychiatry program is offered to adults 55
and older who suffer from diseases such as depression, dementia and
anxiety disorders. The average stay of geriatric patients is seven to
10 days, during which time patients complete psychotherapy sessions,
receive medication and participate in recreational therapy such as
games that will help them with their diagnoses, said Steven Spires,
behavioral health director. Most of these patients come from nursing
homes, Spires said.

"We help these patients get back to reality," he said. "A lot of the
time, they are dealing with anxiety or depression over a loved one.
The incidence of depression is high in this age group and that can
stem from the loss of independence that a lot of the patients feel
when they are in the nursing homes."

The rehabilitation unit, which involves physical and occupational
therapy, primarily treats patients who have suffered from traumatic
brain injuries or those recovering from surgeries. An average stay
there is 20 days, Flannery said.

What makes the hospital unique is the staff, which will be about 100
at full staff, Flannery said. The therapists and nurses are certified
in neurology to help treat those with brain or traumatic injuries, he

Unger, who spent two months in the rehabilitation unit, now can do his
laundry and take care of medical needs such as changing his catheter
bag. He looks forward to going home and his plans include playing
soccer with his grandchildren and decorating his new home with
mementos he and his wife collected while traveling.

"I'll tell you, I was on death's door. I went through the door, but I
did not see my wife. So, that being the case I came back," he said.
"Now, I'm going to make sure my king-size bed is in order and enjoy
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