By Benjamin Goodin
Breathing seems simple, yet it is one of the most fundamental processes that support the functioning of our bodies. Under normal circumstances, we take tens of thousands of involuntary breaths in a single day, all without giving it a thought. We tend to forget entirely that we breathe, that is, until we can’t. We panic desperately when something momentarily blocks our airway, or when a collision or fall knocks the wind out of us, and briefly we are reminded how vital and in some ways, fragile, our respiratory system is. Once that momentary panic passes, we return to involuntary breathing to forget again until the next time we miss a breath. For people with compromised airways or weakened lungs, the frantic struggle to take the next life-giving breath can be an extended, exhausting battle.
“These patients, they’ve already been through a lot,” states Brian Lundberg, RRT, Director of Respiratory Therapy.”
Recovering from a surgery or disease that compromises your ability to breathe independently can be difficult and frightening. Vibra Hospital of Springfield has a skilled respiratory rehabilitation team for when you’re ready to leave the hospital, but still not prepared to breathe steadily on your own. The respiratory specialists there make use of state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and carefully coordinated care to help patients breathe easy once again.
As a 50-bed, long-term acute care hospital, Vibra is specifically designed to provide an advanced level of care when you transition from short-term care, but are not ready to transition to a lower level of care such as home or independent living. Vibra has 24 hour a day physician, nurse and respiratory practitioners on site. Other services provided include speech, physical, and occupational therapy, dietician, wound care specialists, and case management staff.
The key to Vibra Hospital’s success rate with patients relies on the professionals they employ and the coordination between the entire care team. From the moment you arrive, our physicians work with physician specialists in critical care, pulmonary, and infectious disease. Successfully returning patients to good health requires close, frequent communication between Vibra’s team of experts. The entire interdisciplinary team, including the nursing staff and specialists, meets weekly to discuss patient cases and ensure quality delivery of infection prevention, nutrition, wound care, and to chart patient progress. “We discuss how the patients are doing, any barriers facing their recovery, and share ideas about what course of treatment is in the patient’s best interest.”
Although Vibra also specializes in treating patients in need of wound care and with complex medical needs, the highest volume of patients that check in have a respiratory issue that needs recovery before they can be successful outside of a hospital setting. Many rely on life support or a ventilator, have a lung condition like COPD, or have received a tracheostomy. No matter the specific condition, the goal is always to restore a patient to independent, efficient breathing; without proper breathing, other conditions take longer to heal.
“These patients, they’ve already been through a lot,” states Brian Lundberg, RRT, Director of Respiratory Therapy. “Usually, they’ve been at another hospital for two weeks or more. Then they transfer into this new environment.” To ease the transition and provide a continuity of care, local patients that transfer to Vibra Hospital are immediately set up with a team of specialists and an individualized plan of care is put in place.
Every patient who admits to Vibra on a ventilator is evaluated for ventilator liberation, or weaning. The individualized care plan includes the steps needed to attempt weaning from the ventilator. “Everyone is different,” Lundberg states, “some take longer than others, some need more coaching than others.”
Regardless of condition, the journey back to respiratory health is a deliberate process. “It’s like exercise; we don’t want to make them do it all day long,” Lundberg advises. “We take therapy slow, and practice for a couple hours twice a day.”
One of the advanced tools the respiratory team at Vibra has at their disposal is an NM3 volumetric capnography machine — a monitoring system that can be used with the ventilators to assess patient breathing, create a personalized weaning schedule based on patient-specific data, monitor the progress of therapies, and hopefully lead to a successful recovery. “The machine catches patients when they aren’t doing as well as we think. It helps us decide when we should stop the weaning process. If we wear them out during the wean, we won’t get much progress out of them the next day.” The monitor also helps prevent patients from over-exerting themselves during therapy, and therefore, avoids setbacks in rehabilitation. “As patients become stronger, we decrease support the ventilator gives the patient… until ventilator support is minimal. Then we begin off-ventilator trials until they are completely breathing on their own.”
Despite the challenging conditions that some of the patients are admitted with, Mr. Lundberg maintains a positive outlook. Vibra’s patient success rate probably has a lot to do with his optimistic disposition, “At least 65 percent of the patients who come in on a ventilator leave without it. In January, it was 77 percent. It’s nothing that I do personally; I’ve just got a really good staff.” The specialized care and rehabilitation that Vibra is equipped to offer also has a great deal to do with such promising numbers. Working in such a challenging environment seems like it would be exhausting; however, Mr. Lundberg is energized by the results Vibra can offer patients, “It’s very rewarding to getting to know them and root for them. Some of these people haven’t talked in a month; for you to hear their voice, and have them hear it… it’s an amazing place. We’re happy to get them ready to move on to the next step of the journey.”
Vibra Hospital of Springfield is a 50-bed Long Term Acute Care Hospital licensed by CMS and fully accredited by the Joint Commission. Located at 701 North Walnut Street in Springfield, Illinois, Vibra Hospital of Springfield offers 24-hour on-site physician coverage for added peace of mind. Please visit our website at www.vhspringfield.com for more information.
Back to Top