Mount Pleasant rehab hospital sold to Vibra (copy)

Vibra Hospital of Charleston occupies a hospital previously occupied by Tenet Healthcare and Kindred Healthcare near Johnnie Dodds Bouelvard and Bowman Road. Staff/File

Vibra Hospital in Mount Pleasant is shutting down part of its facility as it shifts its focus to providing health services it views as more critical.

The transitional care unit, a skilled-nursing area with 35 beds, will be closed by mid-May, according to an announcement Monday. 

Vibra Healthcare, a Pennsylvania-based private company that owns 30 hospitals in 14 states, is the operator.

Most of the company's services are in long-term acute care and rehabilitation. The decision to shutter the East Cooper transitional unit comes as Vibra is focusing more on its core offerings, said Dave Caddell, chief marketing officer for the hospital. The next-closest long-term acute care center is a two-hour drive away, he said.

Vibra Hospital of Charleston CEO Scott Broome said the company regretted "having to make this very difficult decision."

"However, careful due diligence has revealed it is the appropriate decision to make at this time," Broome said. "We remain extremely committed to Charleston and look forward to further growth and development of our 59-bed long-term acute care hospital."

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control categorizes the part of the hospital that is closing as a nursing home. Charleston County has about a dozen nursing homes, though most aren't part of a hospital like Vibra. 

Many employees at the transitional care unit will still have jobs in Vibra's long-term acute care facility, which is for patients leaving intensive care who still need medical attention. Those needs are generally considered too complicated for a rehabilitation hospital or nursing home. 

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Local demand for these slots has grown, Caddell said, and Vibra is seeing historically high occupancy right now. 

"We’re trying to figure out different ways to continue to grow," he said.

South Carolina has six of these hospitals, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Vibra's Mount Pleasant facility near Johnnie Dodds Boulevard and Bowman Road is the second-biggest in the state.

The company said it will help patients in its skilled nursing facility find a spot somewhere else. 

Tenet Healthcare occupied the Mount Pleasant hospital before relocating to its newly built East Cooper Medical Center nearby. In 2010, the company sold the property for about $16 million to Kindred Healthcare, which invested $14 million in it before selling it to Vibra in 2013.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.