Ilian Grigorov, founder and CEO, on the importance of modern rehabilitation and how to achieve it
Unique is the only word that can adequately describe Sofia's latest medical facility. Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital opened in mid-December and is without a match in the country in its concept, ambition and quality of healthcare services. Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital is for patients who need specialized care after the acute phase of their medical treatment, or after suffering an injury. People recovering from stroke, surgery, amputation and sport trauma, and also children, will all find proper and timely rehabilitation that will help them return to their everyday life as soon as possible.
Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital has achieved this with the expertise and efforts of a dedicated team of physiotherapists, rehabilitation therapists, kinesiotherapists, nurses, psychologists and caregivers. They are not only exceptional professionals but are also understanding and responsive to patients' needs, thus creating a nurturing and relaxing environment that helps the recovery. Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital has also invested in special equipment such as the latest robotic rehabilitation treatment and a moving water pool for hydro treatment.
Ilian Grigorov, founder of Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital
The hospital's building is a masterpiece in its own right and already won Building of the Year 2022 award in the category Social Infrastructure - Healthcare. Located at the foot of the Vitosha, it is equipped with everything needed for a comfortable stay: private and two-bed rooms with high-tech beds, en-suite bathrooms. The ambience is modern, cosy and joyful, and the nice garden provides space for quiet walks and outdoor therapeutic activities that boost the treatment's effect.
To learn more about this exceptional hospital, we talked to its founder and CEO, Ilian Grigorov. Before Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital, he was the executive director of two of Sofia's best private hospitals, and has prior experience in investment, banking and finance. Mr Grigorov holds a Master's degree in Public Health and Health Management from the University of Minnesota and has completed postgraduate training at some of the world's leading academic and healthcare institutions, including Harvard Business School, Harvard Medical School and University of California Berkeley, among others.
Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital is like no other in Bulgaria. What does this means in numbers?
Blocks Rehabilitation Hospital in Sofia is the most modern rehabilitation center in Southeast Europe and probably among the most modern rehabilitation centers in the world. It was designed by HKS Architects, the leading US architectural firm and specialist in healthcare projects with clinical and operations support by Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), the leading rehabilitation hospital in the world and number one in the US for 32 consecutive years.
The facility in Sofia is a fully integrated outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation center with 100 inpatient beds. It is a seven-storey building with nearly 14,500 sq.m of built area. It has the latest technology in rehabilitation including hydrotherapy, rehabilitation robots, advanced technology for adult and pediatric rehabilitation. The facility has around 5,000 sq.m therapeutic garden for outdoor rehabilitation activities.
Interestingly, the largest rehabilitation hospital in Southeast Europe is also a Blocks initiative – this is our facility in Athens, Blocks Rehab Filoktitis Recovery and Rehabilitation Center. It is a 175-bed fully integrated rehabilitation center with about 24,000 sq.m building and about 70,000 sq.m Mediterranean forest and therapeutic outdoor areas.
What does modern rehabilitation look like and why is it important for the patients' recovery?
Modern rehabilitation is an integral part of the recovery process. It is a natural seamless extension of the acute care episode of treatment. Very often, the acute episode could be one or two days while the rehabilitation may take weeks or even months. For two distinct group of patients, neuro and orthopedic ones, rehabilitation is critical for their long-term functional status and health. After a stroke or after total hip or knee replacement surgery, rehabilitation should start immediately after the intervention and continue in a post-acute care setting, such as our hospital, or at home.
Modern rehabilitation is based on evidence-based medicine and relies on high technology. Many people think that rehabilitation is more recreational and should be delivered in places such as spa resorts, sea resorts or hot springs. Although nature and ambience are nice to have, rehabilitation relies on a good balance between high technology and human clinical expertise. It should be where the patients are. Sofia is the biggest healthcare market in Bulgaria with more than 2 million people catchment area and more than 30 acute care hospitals. Currently, the rehabilitation infrastructure of the city is insufficient. A center like ours is what patients and their families need, a provider that can quickly respond to the post-acute care needs. For example, the flagship facility of our partners in Chicago is in a 40-story skyscraper in downtown Chicago, one block away from North Michigan Avenue, also known as the Magnificent Mile.
Why do Bulgarian patients need rehabilitation as offered by Blocks Rehabilitation?
The Bulgarian patients need high quality rehabilitation. There are other providers in Bulgaria that do it, but this is not enough to meet the huge demand for rehabilitation services. In Blocks, we have tried to create the so-called end-to-end rehabilitation process, which includes in-hospital, outpatient and at-home delivery of the rehabilitation service.
The complexity of the medical conditions requires a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to rehabilitation. The providers involved include physicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, nurses, neuropsychologists, nutritionists. Blocks has gathered all these people under one roof, who together with the latest medical technology could provide a world-class service to the patients.
On what principles step the rehabilitation services offered by Blocks Rehabilitation?
The fundamental principles of our services are high quality, evidence-based medicine and compassionate care. As a post-acute or non-acute care service, the rehabilitation episode could extend to more than 30 days in a hospital setting and several months in an outpatient setting. In that respect, the rehabilitation episode is a hybrid episode combining elements of the healthcare industry and elements of the hospitality industry. When you stay in a hospital for an extended period of time, aspects such as food, recreation, psychosocial services start becoming important in addition to the medical service.
How does the patient's admission and treatment process at Blocks Rehabilitation take place? What are the main stages?
The admission process starts with a clinical assessment and formulation of a treatment plan. This treatment plan then is cascaded down into treatment sessions and regularly reassessed in order to measure the progress of the treatment against the treatment goals. As already mentioned, the treatment plan is a multidisciplinary effort. It is created through a multidisciplinary planning conference with all the clinical specialists involved, including physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, nurses, speech-language pathologists, psychologists etc. The future of modern rehabilitation is measuring clinical outcomes. We should be able to objectively demonstrate that we are doing a better job and this results in a better functional status of the patient.
What is the nature of your partnership with Shirley Ryan Ability Lab? What are the advantages for the patients?
Shirley Ryan Ability Lab is like the Mayo Clinic in rehabilitation medicine. It is the best and the biggest rehabilitation center in the US. It is a fully integrated center with clinical service, research and academics. They have been involved in the creation of our center from the very beginning. Interestingly, the team of architects that designed their new building in Chicago was the team who designed the concept of our hospital. Working with them gives us an exposure to the brightest and most advanced brains in rehabilitation. We expect in the coming years to have a closer clinical and operations collaboration with them.
Sofia, Dragalevtsi, 1 Konstantin Pomyanov St
phone: +359 888 200 201