KENNEBUNK — It may go by a new name ”“ it’s now known as the Kennebunk Center for Health & Rehabilitation ”“ but those who utilize its services will experience something familiar: a personalized attention to health and recovery.

That’s the pledge made by Barbra Domijan, admissions director for the facility, who is assuring the center’s clientele that new ownership heralds an improvement over its already-solid reputation for patient care.

After becoming an affiliate of National HealthCare Associates, the center now boasts a five-star rating from Medicare. That’s good news for those being treated for respiratory and cardiac trouble, neurological impairments, stroke, and a host of other ailments.

And if staff has its way, a patient won’t have to stay long. The focus, said Domijan, is on education ”“ ensuring that a high percentage of patients make the necessary lifestyle adjustments and changes necessary to avoid a relapse, which could lead to additional rehab or hospitalization.

“It’s brought about some great changes,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know what to expect. They’re afraid of coming here and never going home.

“We want people to go home as soon as they do. They need that for morale.”

Suzanne Plourde, a registered nurse at the center, said the educational component is important, because it enables patients to make sure that once they go home, they stay there.

“Education is important at this level, because oftentimes people go home and revert to the same bad habits,” said Plourde. “We try to change that, so we come up with an individual care plan for each person. The goal is to keep it simple.”

Another morale boost comes in the form of localized care. While now a part of the larger National umbrella, the center’s new overseers have stressed that patient care should remain personal.

“They really pride themselves on the fact that they’re giving care to local people by local people,” said Domijan. “That’s what makes people very comfortable. It’s also great for the morale of the staff.”

For an additional safety net, those covered by Medicare have 30 days after returning home to decide whether they need to return to the center for additional rehabilitation. But extra treatment isn’t the only reason patients come back.

“We do have a lot of people that come back and visit,” said Domijan. “They make a lot of friends here.”

The center, she said, often hosts picnics, barbecues and other social events for both residents and “alumni,” which prove popular because of the bond that many forge while spending time at the facility.

Meanwhile, the center itself has fostered bonds with local hospitals, including Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital, both in Portland, as well as Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford. With hospital stays getting shorter, said Plourde, forging those relationships is important, as the Kennebunk Center for Health & Rehabilitation becomes a more central player in the recovery process.

To make sure all of a patient’s health care resources are brought into the fold, the center will also help schedule appointments with primary care physicians, who will receive a full synopsis of a person’s ailments and subsequent rehabilitation to better facilitate treatment.

More information about Kennebunk Center for Health & Rehabilitation can be found on its website at

“In the end, we’re here for health care,” said Domijan. “We want people to get better.”

— Staff Writer Jeff Lagasse can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 319 or [email protected]

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