Ignite Medical Resorts is located on the St. Joseph Medical Center campus.

Ignite Medical Resort touts uncompromising luxury for rehab patients

“We didn’t want to be a sleepy nursing home.”

By Don Bradley

Right through the front door you get a whiff that this place across from St. Joseph Medical Center is not the typical rehab center.

There’s a Starbucks in the lobby. Grab a caramel macchiato while you wait for check-in.

But then just the name, Ignite Medical Resort, provides a clue that the place is not rehab business-as-usual. The brochure touts “uncompromising luxury.”

After a $2 million-dollar rehab of the building at 621 Carondelet Drive, the entrance looks like a hotel lobby. Patients are called guests. Private rooms, spa, full restaurant dinner menu, manicures. There’s even a concierge. You want the morning paper? They’ll get it.

“We didn’t want to be a sleepy nursing home,” Aubrey Marez, the facility’s director of development said last week during a tour.

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The site used to be Carondelet Place before being purchased by Ignite, a fairly new company which pushes luxury, rapid rehab services. The center partners with St. Joseph Medical Center for post-hospital stays for complex wound care, stroke recovery, pulmonary rehab and occupational, speech, physical and cardio therapy.

The location, just east of St. Joseph Medical Center, had for years been a popular rehab referral site for the hospital. Ignite hopes to renew that relationship, Marez said.

A key to the 120-bed facility is that therapists are in-house employees rather than contract workers for third parties. This arrangement reduces turnover and promotes continuity through seven day a week care, Marez said.

The average stay is 12-14 days and most care is covered by private or government insurance.

“And we’re the only skilled nursing facility with a Starbucks,” Marez said.

The resort-like atmosphere is what attracted Devin Ljung. He left a career in hotel management with Marriot to become Ignite’s director of hospitality.

“Being in the medical field is completely different but I love being here,” he said. “I try to come up with something every day that delights someone.”

He particularly likes the special dinner provided to guests when they leave after a stay. A recent request was for an Italian feast.

“I asked them about dessert and they said they didn’t want any,” Ljung said. “I got them tiramisu anyway.”

Ignite also has medical resorts in Blue Springs, Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City North.

For more information, go to ignitemedicalservices.com.

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