MILFORD, Del. – “They’re very excited and curious as this is a little bit different than a normal nursing home. They’re like ‘how did that happen?’ I say come on in,” Polaris Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center Administrator Karen Hurst said.

The doors of Polaris Healthcare’s new, 14 bed Spiritus Ventilator Unit are now open.  Spiritus is Latin for breathing.

The space is the first of its kind in southern and central Delaware, providing individualized care for respiratory patients.  “You get sick and you have to have that on-going care and you’re put on a ventilator, the closest place that you could go was the Wilmington area,” Spiritus Respiratory Manager Margii Hassman said.

“We think it’s just a wonderful thing for folks to be able to have that opportunity not to travel. Especially for the families so they can visit them often,” Hurst said.

Treatment for individuals range from those with respiratory failure to cardiac disorders.

Respiratory Manager Margii Hassman says starting day one education is their focus. “A lot of times when we receive a patient the family just doesn’t know what to expect,” Hassman said.

“So here’s what we can expect. This is the process that we’re going to follow for your loved one to help wean them off the vent.”

The care team will consists of respiratory therapists, nurses, and other specialists helping fill any and all patient needs.  Yet, we’re told the challenge has been filling those roles. “Especially nurses. We’re really in need of nurses,” Spiritus Nurse Manager Jenell Conquest said.

“Right now we’ve been using agency and they’ve been helping out a great deal which I’m very appreciative of.”

Along with that care team, we’re told a patient’s support system is also vital. “We all know that rehab takes a whole village, right? So its really nice to have that family input and interaction with that,” Hassman said.

Nurse staff also tell 47ABC they’re staying on top of things to prevent any further infections and re-admission into the hospital.  They say the ultimate goal is to help wean patients off the ventilator so they can eventually go home and return to a normal life.

Staff also they’re actively searching for more healthcare professionals for the unit, including a full-time evening nurse.

Administrators say the Milford Wellness Village was the perfect destination for the unit as patients will be in proximity to other services they may need.