Healing With Hospitality

By Thomas Crocker
Friday, September 8, 2017

Opening in October, Rapid Recovery Center by Mainstreet Health will transform short-term rehabilitation in San Antonio, making a 5-star hotel-like experience — including high-end restaurant-quality food — central to patients’ recovery from major illness and surgery.

Located at 6035 Eckhert Road, Rapid Recovery Center San Antonio will be the next stop on the care journey for individuals discharged from the hospital following care and treatments from medical conditions and surgical procedures, including cardiovascular, pulmonary, orthopedic and neurological issues, as well as sepsis and traumatic injuries, among others.

The Rapid Recovery Center’s overarching goals are to help patients transition out of the hospital sooner, return home faster and reduce the likelihood of returning to the hospital — all in a healing environment with hotel-like amenities. Patients will participate in rehabilitation therapy and receive person-centered, physician-directed care. The Rapid Recovery Center will receive Joint Commission certification by year end.

“One of the first questions short-stay rehabilitation patients usually ask is, ‘When will I be going home?’ Everything we do, from our therapy services to the meals we prepare, is in the service of getting patients home as quickly as possible so they can rest, continue healing and return to their lives in the environment they find most comfortable.”
— Mark Fritz, President of Mainstreet Health for Arizona and Texas

Care That Prioritizes Comfort

A focus on patient comfort that would be right at home in the hospitality industry will both complement and underlie the medical care patients receive. This emphasis begins with extensive guest services training during orientation, and training will be continuous and ongoing.

“The guest services staff education and training is paramount. It helps our team identify with and understand the importance of meeting patients where they are, physically, mentally and emotionally, and of being empathetic,” says Mark Fritz, President of Mainstreet Health for Arizona and Texas. “Attending to the smallest details, such as addressing patients by their preferred name or delivering coffee and a newspaper in the morning, make the biggest differences, especially if those things are what individuals are used to in their daily lives.”

Rapid Recovery Center Director of Guest Services Robert C. Garcia applies the expertise he’s developed from a career in the hospitality industry to reimagine the short-stay rehab experience.

Robert C. Garcia

“We want to support patients’ healing with a hospitality mind-set that includes anticipation of guest needs,” Garcia says. “Our private, finely maintained suites will have flat-screen TVs, complementary Wi-Fi, full baths, and hotel-like amenities, all geared toward recovery. We want patients to arrive with a warm welcome and leave with a fond farewell.”

Rapid Recovery Center purpose-built design and hospitality amenities include:

  • A bistro, offering quick-service gourmet foods, that is open to the public
  • A full-service restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • An outdoor courtyard for relaxation, socializing and dining
  • A salon for hair styling and manicures
  • A therapeutic juice bar
  • Chef-prepared meals
  • Evening socials including happy hours
  • Gourmet coffees and teas
  • Therapy gyms tailored to help patients improve their mobility and independence

No element, however, expresses Rapid Recovery Center’s commitment to hospitality than the dining experience.

Feeding Patients’ Recovery

Vice President of Culinary Darin Leonardson, CDM, CFPP, brings a wealth of experience — he previously worked as a general manager and executive chef for Google, among other positions.

Following physicians’ dietary orders, and in collaboration with the Rapid Recovery Center’s registered dietitian, Chef Leonardson twists recipes using herbs and spices to bring out the most flavor.

“Even the most restricted diets are prepared without compromising flavor,” he says.

Leonardson prefers using locally sourced and site-grown ingredients to create dishes such as pan-seared chicken breast herb-marinated for 24 hours with lemon, basil and thyme; fire-roasted Hatch chile enchilada, a fresh take on one of Texas’ favorite peppers; and grilled flatiron steak covered in a bone broth demi-glace served with roasted rosemary potatoes and haricots verts.

“Our menus will support the healing process,” Chef Leonardson says. “Using fresh herbs, citrus notes and vinegar, I can reduce butter and salt content while achieving the same flavor components — all while creating an incredible, colorful presentation that’s pleasing to the eye.”

Chef Leonardson places a premium on freshness, a quality that is often lacking in the cuisine of most rehabilitation facilities, he says.

“We make everything from scratch — soups, dressings and even bone broths.”

When patients are unable or prefer not to dine in the restaurant, culinary ambassadors will take meal selections at the patient’s bedside. Embedded in Rapid Recovery Center’s electronic health record, the patient’s dietary restrictions, nutritional requirements and individual preferences help guide the ambassador in offering the various appropriate meal choices.

Chef Leonardson sums up his goals for the dining experience at Rapid Recovery Center simply.

“I want patients to say, ‘Wow’ and ‘Yum,’” he says. “And then heal.”

Mainstreet Rapid Recovery Centers are also coming to Amarillo, Austin-Round Rock, Beaumont, Fort Worth, Lubbock, Temple, Waco and Webster. For more information, visit rapidrecoverycenter.com.