Mid Illinois, Springfield / Decatur

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Offers Help and Hope

 Heartland Health Care October 01, 2012

When the lower part of her left leg became inflamed and swollen, Carol Gulick was understandably concerned. She was active, but the pain in her leg was slowing her down. As a diabetic, this health problem and lack of mobility left her frustrated and without much hope. Now, this new development greatly troubled her.

She was diagnosed with cellulitis, an infection of the skin and soft tissues under the skin. It occurs when bacteria spreads under or on the skin, and is a common condition to diabetics. This bacterium continues to grow more rapidly in the affected tissue, and quickly spreads if it enters the bloodstream. Diabetics typically have circulation problems, and cellulitis causes further impairment of blood circulation, particularly in the legs, and leads to diabetic foot/foot ulcers.

This diagnosis is perhaps the worst thing a diabetic can hear. Her case required amputation and also meant she may never return to her home again.

“I was told there weren’t many alternatives so I would have to live in a nursing home,” said the Decatur native. “I was so discouraged I thought it would be better to go off to a field somewhere to die.”

Following the amputation, Carol was sure the ambulance was taking her to a nursing home, but was assured by a paramedic that she was going to Heartland of Decatur and that she was going to be in good hands. Despite his assurances, she was unfamiliar with their rehab facilities and doubted that her future held much hope. Now, she’s a believer.

“Staying here has been so good. I feel like I’m in the Taj Mahal,” said Carol. “Everyone cares for you and brought my spirits up.”

Carol’s emotional recovery isn’t unusual for Heartland patients and is just one of the many ways Heartland helps patients recover from surgery or a long hospital stay.

“We’re not a nursing home,” said Amy Gagnon, Admissions Director. “Our main focus is to get our patients back home. Our slogan is ‘The best way home is through our doors’, and we have the clinical expertise that make that happen. This separates us from other facilities.”

The facts speak for themselves. According to Gagnon, 89 percent of Heartland’s rehabilitation patients returned home and 92 percent of those patients felt comfortable taking care of themselves.

“We can take more acuity cases than others,” said Gagnon. “We have an amazing therapy center that works with patients daily to set goals, monitor progress, and educate family members on options. We also offer a variety of social services to help patients deal with emotional issues.”

Prior to coming to Heartland, Carol and her husband, Charles, had become frustrated with her care options, but that quickly changed. Working with the Heartland staff over a four-month stay while her leg heals, Carol has slowly begun to make progress.

“When Carol came in, she couldn’t do much, but now, after two months, she’s able to transfer from her bed and maneuver around in a wheelchair,” said Heartland Occupational Therapist Laura Kenney.

Following treatments with a PENS machine (which stimulates circulation electronically) and working with a full weight machine, Carol is now able to use a walker to navigate the facility, and has enough stability to hop on one leg. Therapy is also helping her to build arm strength so she can use her wheelchair more effectively, and once her leg has healed, she will be fitted for her prosthesis and learn how to walk again.

“I’m ready to go home,” said Gulick. “I’m just waiting on getting a ramp built.”

Heartland is a member of the HCR ManorCare health care family, a leader in skilled nursing and rehabilitation services that offers a network of more than 500 centers providing short-term post-acute services and long-term care.

Like all of HCR affiliates, Heartland provides state-of-the-art rehab equipment and machines in a cost effective setting, and quality care for patients and residents. This equipment includes the OmniVR, a virtual rehabilitation computer program, which can read balance and coordination progress, and register how many feet walked. Heartland doesn’t outsource their rehabilitation efforts either, with two physical therapists, two assistant physical therapists, one occupational therapist, three occupational assistants, and two speech therapists available on-site. Heartland also provides a variety of services including Alzheimer units and hospice.

Heartland has pioneered changes to improve patient rehabilitation services, including cutting costs and lessoning patient’s stay while making care more inexpensive than inpatient rehabilitation or acute care hospital.

The HCR family of hospitals lead in stroke, orthopedic and cardiac care, and Heartland is proud of being a member of the HCR ManorCare family which have received a 92 percent approval rating from patients and their families.

In addition to their approval rating, Heartland offers a team of licensed nurses, therapists, nurse practitioners, dieticians, and discharge planners who work with patients and physicians to change the perception of nursing home facilities. Their efforts have lead to saving money on rehabilitation improving patient care.

Heartland and the HCR ManorCare family provide proven rehabilitation programs that receive the same level of care from trained nurses and therapists, and the same physician protocol as rehab hospitals. In addition to the care,
Heartland provides exceptional service and has the numbers to back this up including:

  • 98 percent of patients received therapy services
  • 88 percent come directly from the hospital
  • 89 percent of rehab patients return back to their lives

Because of their outstanding reputation, 156,000 patients choose HCR ManorCare facilities each year for post-acute care nationwide. Heartland and the HCR family are leaders in rehabilitation treating 11,000 patients daily who receive more than 23,000 combined hours of therapy. This leadership and dedication mean HCR Medicare and insurance patients have an average stay of only 30 days.

“We have no limitations in rehabilitation and accept all payer sources—Medicare, Medicaid, insurance and private pay,” said Gagnon.

While Carol’s physical abilities have improved and she continues to recover, she has become more optimistic. Charles has noticed her improved attitude and increased stamina, and both are impressed with the quality care and the facilities.

“Staying here has been so good,” said Carol. “I’m making so much progress. They showed me that I can—and will—walk again.”

For more information, please contact Heartland of Decatur, 444 W. Harrison Ave., Decatur, IL. Phone: 217-877-7333

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 Heartland Health Care| October 01, 2012
Keywords:  Feature StorySHC

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