Tennova Healthcare, The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) and Kindred Healthcare today announced they are creating a joint venture to construct and operate a 57-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital on land owned by Tennova near the corner of Middlebrook Pike and Old Weisgarber Road in Knoxville. The inpatient rehabilitation facility will be named Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital.


“This will truly be a joint effort, relying equally on the expertise and talent of our three organizations,” said Joe Landsman, president and chief executive officer of UTMC. “We’re very excited to be working together with other reputable healthcare partners in our region—and at the national level—to do what’s best for our community’s healthcare needs.”


Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital will provide care for patients across an 11-county region with impairments resulting from a traumatic medical situation, such as stroke, serious spinal cord and brain injury, neurologic illness, major multiple trauma, and orthopedic conditions with complex or profound impairments. Although the majority of patients are expected to be seniors, Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital will be equipped to also treat patients younger than 65 years old who suffer from traumatic incidents.


“By virtue of our strategic alliance and joint venture arrangement, this project will promote easy access, cost-effectiveness, and reduce the unnecessary duplication of healthcare services,” said Tony Benton, chief executive officer of Tennova Healthcare – East Tennessee Market. “In fact, transferring appropriate patients to an inpatient rehabilitation facility like Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital has the potential to reduce acute care length of stay and the need to construct additional acute care beds.”


Tennova, UTMC and Kindred are jointly filing a Certificate of Need application with the Health Services and Development Agency (HSDA) of the State of Tennessee, which seeks to relocate 57 licensed inpatient rehabilitation beds from Tennova hospitals to the new inpatient rehabilitation facility.


Needed Services in the Region

The Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities has allowed Tennova to hold 57 inpatient rehabilitation beds under license in inactive status after certain Tennova affiliated hospitals were closed at the end of 2018. Additionally, on February 27, 2019, HSDA approved the temporary relocation of 18 of those combined inpatient rehabilitation beds to the former Tennova Hospice House on Andersonville Pike in Knoxville.  At the time Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital opens for patients, Tennova will discontinue services at its 18-bed unit on Andersonville Pike and all 57 inpatient rehabilitation beds will be relinquished in order for the rehabilitation hospital to begin operations.


According to Benton, Tennova has been providing inpatient rehabilitation services for more than three decades. “Over the years, we have helped improve the lives of thousands of patients who have experienced strokes, brain injuries, neuropathy and myopathy diseases, spinal cord injuries, multiple trauma, and other complex medical and physical disabilities. The relocation and consolidation of Tennova’s inpatient rehabilitation beds is vital to meeting the rehabilitation needs of a medically underserved patient population in the community.”


Kindred will manage the day-to-day operations of the new hospital.


“Kindred’s experience operating inpatient rehabilitation hospitals will complement the highly regarded patient care services that Tennova and UTMC currently provide, resulting in a collaboration that will improve health outcomes, inpatient rehabilitation access and clinical integration,” said Jason Zachariah, president of Kindred Rehabilitation Services, a division of Kindred Healthcare. “We are pleased to work with two premier healthcare providers in the East Tennessee Region to offer quality, post-acute care resources for the benefit of the community.”


The facility is expected to open in early 2021, subject to necessary regulatory and other approvals.


Facility Design

The two-story, 68,000-square-foot standalone hospital features private rooms and private bathrooms, with designated wings on the second floor of the building for stroke and traumatic brain injury patients. The main therapy suite is located on the first floor, complete with a therapy gym, rooms for multiple therapy protocols, private therapy rooms, cooking therapy room, and an “Activities of Daily Living” therapy suite. Additional therapy rooms are located on the second floor for convenient access to therapy for the entire patient population.


The all-private room facility configuration allows space for the patients’ privacy, comfort and treatment needs. The room design enables nurses and therapists sufficient space for treatment and equipment while also providing space for the patient’s family to be present. Rooms are designed to optimally meet the needs of each patient and enhance their quality of care.


The design has been implemented at several Kindred rehabilitation hospitals throughout the country with significant success in enhancing patient outcomes and improving their quality of life and opportunity to return home or to a lower level of care after treatment.


“Together, we’re committed to making it a compassionate, comfortable place for patients to receive care and families to visit,” Benton said. “We’re especially excited to start developing the Tennova Health Park in west Knoxville, which will include beautiful landscaping as well as a tree buffer easement. It will be a true asset for this community.”