HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Colorado Springs recently was certified as a center of excellence by the Joint Commission, the  certification board for the nation’s hospitals.

The distinction means that HealthSouth met certain core measures and improved others, said CEO Steve Schaefer.

“We identified areas we wanted to measure, and then worked on improving those measures,” he said. “We had a site survey Feb. 10 and the visitor said that everyone she spoke with in the hospital was educated about the right way to do things.”

HealthSouth is certified as a hospital by the Joint Commission, but this is the first specific treatment to receive the center of excellence certification.

The hospital decided to focus on reducing falls, working on bladder control and output and increasing confidence before stroke victims return home. For example, the hospital took a room and made it a single bedroom, with a living room across the hall. Before leaving for home, the stroke patient can try it out first – gaining more confidence that they are able to care for themselves.

“It makes a great deal of difference,” Schaefer said. “People feel better about leaving, because they know they can do things they could before – and their families feel safer too. It gives them some independence.”

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And while the hospital’s rehab staff pushes patients to perform physically, they are now more careful about making sure there are fewer falls – one of the risks after a stroke.

The rehab hospital typically has four or five recovering stroke patients at a time – not a large number. But Schaefer believes the new certification will drive local neurologists and family doctors to recommend patients go to HealthSouth as they recover from a stroke.

Currently, the hospital gets referrals from local hospitals as well as those in the Denver area