In July 1987, Mike Zarcone purchased Saratoga Place Skilled Nursing Facility and with his partner Connie Rolfe RN converted it into a totally dedicated subacute hospital. Mike and Connie changed the name to Subacute Saratoga Hospital. Patient stays at the surrounding acute care hospitals were continuing to become increasingly shorter with no alternative except homecare. Subacute Saratoga Hospital was established to serve the needs of those patients being discharged from the acute hospitals but still too sick to go home. Unlike other programs, Subacute Saratoga Hospital’s mission was to actively rehab these challenging patients. We focused our energy on weaning patients off their ventilators and / or tracheostomies with the goal of returning patients home. Within two years, Subacute Saratoga Hospital had a reputation for providing excellent care and was known for its specialization in respiratory rehab, traumatic brain injury and cancer pain care.
In 1989, we were approached by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and asked to provide ventilator Care to a ten month old baby, Crystal. This was the first ever pediatric patient to be admitted to a skilled nursing facility in the state of California. Shortly after admitting Crystal, we were soon being asked to admit other technology dependent children from hospitals all over Northern California. We requested that the California State Department of Health Services acknowledge the special needs of these children and establish a statewide pediatric subacute program. At the time the state felt there was no need for a dedicated pediatric program. Consequently, Mike contacted our local assemblyman and introduced him and his staff to Crystal as well as the additional children Subacute Saratoga Hospital was now serving. The need for an alternative level of care for technology dependent children was growing. Technology dependent children were tying up cribs in the pediatric intensive care units of Bay Area hospitals for months and even years. These children were not receiving active rehabilitation services because the acute hospitals are focused on saving the lives of critically ill children not on the long term rehabilitation of technology dependent children. This became our mission.
In 1993 after numerous state assembly and senate hearing committee meetings we were able to get AB-36, the Pediatric Subacute Legislation passed and in April 1994 the program was available statewide. Today Subacute Saratoga Children’s Hospital is totally dedicated to serving medically fragile children. Subacute Saratoga Children’s Hospital along with its sister hospital, Children’s Recovery Center, are the only two state certified pediatric subacute hospitals in Northern California. Although it admits children from UC Davis and Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, the majority of the children come from nearby bay area hospitals.
Subacute Saratoga Children’s Hospital is not only providing medical care but is actively meeting the rehabilitation and educational needs of the children. Recently passed legislation has permitted an alliance with the Santa Clara County Office of Education giving the children access to qualified teachers in a normal school environment. This program has become a significant model for the local school districts.