By Roberta Codemo
There is a growing movement away from long-term care in rehabilitation facilities nationwide. The aging baby boomer population now wants to return home as quickly as possible after joint replacement surgery or a stroke. Capitol Healthcare and Rehabilitation Centre in Central Illinois has embraced this trend and is shifting its focus to short-term care.
In order to reach the goal of proving short-term rehab care, Capitol HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre converted the third floor of their existing rehab facility into a short-term care floor with room for 45 patients and a new therapy gym and dining hall. Patients have a private room, which seems to help them recover more quickly. The average stay is two to three weeks.
Patients admitted directly from the hospital meet with one of the staff, who immediately begins formulating a treatment discharge plan with the patient so they have an approximate time frame for when they will go home. “Our goal is to get them home as soon as possible,” according to program director Nicole Thomas.
Patients are admitted to a rehab facility when their doctors feel they won’t be able to finish all their therapy in the hospital. They are looking for a place where they will have their own room and that is close to home and family. “They want to focus on rehab,” Nicole said. “That’s why they’re here.”
Inpatient therapy is more intense than at-home therapy where they might meet with a therapist two to three times a week. Here, therapists work with patients between two to three and a half hours a day, seven days a week. Patients do not go home until they meet their doctor’s protocols, such as being able to get off the toilet by themselves.
The average patient is recovering from a joint replacement of the knee or hip and needs short-term therapy. “Everything goes through the doctor,” Nicole said. The doctor forwards orders with protocols for the therapist to follow. This ensures the patient meets recovery expectations through therapeutic exercises like range of motion and strength building.
The staff works with patients to motive them to achieve their goals. The doctors and nurses on staff strive to resolve pain control issues so patients can do their very best in therapy.
The staff uses the most up-to-date technologies and pain modality treatments, like ultrasound, diathermy and electrical stimulation. These are great with helping with pain before and after therapy. “Not every facility has them,” Nicole said.
A typical physical therapy session starts with warmup and stretching exercises before moving to working on standing, balance, and walking. Patients work with both the physical therapist and the physical therapy assistant to achieve maximum recovery in a short time.
Occupational therapy is geared toward performing activities of daily living, such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, and getting breakfast. Regaining these abilities is important to the patient’s self-esteem and contributes to the speed of recovery.
Stroke patients with cognition, speech, and swallowing problems work with speech therapists. Speech therapists are trained to help patients with these deficits. Through one-on-one therapy, patients are brought up to the highest level of attainable function.
Once the patient has completed therapy and is ready to go home, the social service department sets up home health care visits for the next two to three weeks. Staff with Capitol HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre works with home health care to do a complete home safety assessment before the patient is released. “It makes the transition easier,” Nicole said. Once a patient returns home, home health nurses and therapists continue to help them with their exercises until they are able to function in the community.
Program director Nicole Thomas works with the facility, schedules patients, and manages the therapists. In addition, she serves as the liaison between the skilled nursing facility and therapists to ensure that the therapy needs of the residents who live there are being met. As a certified nursing assistant in high school, she fell in love with the patients she worked with in nursing homes. She graduated from Illinois Central College in Peoria in 1996 with an occupational therapy assistant applied science degree.
Therapy staff includes two occupational therapists, seven occupational therapy assistants, two physical therapists, seven physical therapy assistants and two speech therapists, for a total of 20 therapists. The large number of therapists allows for collaboration and exchanges of ideas. The patients benefit from this team approach.
Staff undergoes special training, which includes cardiac training and dementia training, because of the high number of seniors in the patient population. The staff considers the medical history and current issues of the patient to reduce changes of complications.
Each therapist is certified and must complete a set number of continuing education hours, which varies depending on whether one is a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or a speech therapist. On average, a therapist must have 24 hours of continuing education every two years.
“The staff likes the flexibility to choose their own schedules and love working with people,” Nicole said. The therapists cater to the patients. There are some therapists that come in at 5:30 a.m. and others that come in later in the day and work until 9 p.m. Patients like the wide variety of therapy times that are offered. Some patients like to complete their therapy first thing in the morning while others choose evening hours.
Capitol Healthcare and Rehabilitation Centre is accredited by The Joint Commission and was last accredited in December 2013. This is the only skilled nursing and rehab facility in Springfield where the entire facility is accredited by The Joint Commission. By law, either the skilled nursing facility or the rehab facility must be accredited.
Every three years, The Joint Commission does an on-site survey to ensure that the facility meets set standards. The short-term care facility must also meet specific criteria, including how many days a week and what hours services are offered, therapist training, vital signs, pain modalities, transfer training, documentation training and safety. The Joint Commission sends an auditor to conduct a mock on-site survey periodically to make sure everything is on track.
The State of Illinois also does an annual on-site survey and inspection. During these inspections, the State verifies the facility is following doctor’s orders and practicing infection control.
Capitol HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre is focused on helping you get back home quickly. With their shift to short-term care, they meet the needs of the active baby boomer population by putting them back on their feet. Capitol HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre will continue to grow their short-term rehab facility to meet the changing health care needs of the Central Illinois area. In doing so, they will maintain their state-of-the-art facilities and adapt to new technologies as they are developed.
“Capitol HealthCare is a great facility,” Nicole said. “We want what’s best for our patients.”
For more information contact Capitol HealthCare and Rehabilitation Centre at 555 W. Carpenter Street in Springfield, IL or call 217-525-1880.
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