In-patient center touts successes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 3, 2001

Edgar Dillon was miserable. He couldn’t eat, sleep or move about very well. &uot;I was in pain all the time,&uot; he said, recalling the aftermath of surgery and the wait to begin rehabilitation. That was five months ago.

And today? &uot;I do just about anything I want to do,&uot; he said, smiling and eager to demonstrate his newly developed prowess.

Dillon underwent surgery to replace both of his knees. &uot;It was a trial at first,&uot; he said. &uot;But this staff did a great job with me.&uot;

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Dillon is one of many success stories materializing from work done at the acute in-patient rehabilitation center at Natchez Regional Medical Center. Established in October, the seven-bed center will be enlarged during the summer, taking in the entire fifth floor of the hospital, adding more beds and a full therapy gym, said Barbara Thompson, program director. &uot;We’ll have a full ADL (activities of daily living) kitchen for use with occupational therapy and a transitional apartment for someone who is about ready to go home. The patient will be monitored and will have a call light. We see this as a safe test that all patients won’t need, but it will be available for those who do,&uot; Thompson said.

How is this rehab different?

The acute in-patient rehab center is unlike many of the more familiar types of centers. &uot;We’re a fairly intensive level of rehabilitation service as opposed to what you might do as an outpatient or in a home health program,&uot; Thompson said. &uot;Patients in this center are still in the hospital, medically stable but in need of the 24-hour nursing care.&uot;

Robert Anderson came to the center as the victim of a serious stroke, said physical therapist Michelle Kaiser. &uot;He is truly a miracle story. It took three or four of us to get him out of bed; he couldn’t even hold up his head,&uot; she said. &uot;Thirty-five days later, he was talking, sitting up, walking with help and dressing himself.&uot;

Anderson, quiet but smiling, nodded in agreement, allowing his wife, Rosalie Anderson, to do most of the speaking. &uot;He’s a little stubborn, but he is doing good,&uot; she said. &uot;He speaks very well, but he is a quiet person.&uot;

Occupational therapist Kristal Hardie said the work she and others did with Anderson led to a great feeling of fulfillment. &uot;And a big plus for him was that his family always was so involved. That plays a big role.&uot; Hardie said.

How do referrals work?

Patients entering the acute in-patient rehabilitation center come from different settings, Thompson said. &uot;We admit people from this hospital and from other hospitals, from nursing homes and from the patient’s home,&uot; she said.

Patients are admitted after a pre-admission screening. &uot;The medical director has the final approval as to whether the patient meets the admissions criteria,&uot; Thompson said. Physicians, social workers, family members, insurance representatives, case managers and patients themselves may contact the rehab center about referrals or admissions.

Eulalie Bull underwent surgery for hip replacement at a hospital in Jackson. She opted for rehabilitation at the Natchez Regional facility, however. &uot;I feel very fortunate that I could come here,&uot; she said. &uot;My friends and family didn’t have to worry about chauffeuring me back and forth to Jackson.&uot;

Bull arrived at the rehab center unable to walk. After two or three days of therapy, that changed. &uot;She was extremely motivated,&uot; said Kaiser, who conducted the physical therapy. &uot;She was here about 10 days. She reached her goals very quickly.&uot;

The occupational therapy works hand in hand with the physical, said Hardie. &uot;We promote ability to carry out the activities of daily life in occupational therapy,&uot; Hardie said.

Both therapists contribute to the overall goal of every patient – reintegration into the home and the community.

Peggy Mayberry in the social worker role follows the rehab patients from pre-screening to their return home. &uot;I find them very motivated to get home and be able to function at home,&uot; she said.

Results tell the story

&uot;I do just about anything I want to do,&uot; Edgar Dillard said. &uot;I still do my therapy, too, with my wife’s prodding.&uot; Dillard walks proudly today, glad to point out how his gait differs from before surgery and rehabilitation.

&uot;I wobbled when I walked,&uot; he said. &uot;One leg was shorter than the other. One was bowed because of all the weight I had put on it. This staff did a great job with me.&uot;

Thompson said the encouragement patients get from the staff plays a big role in the end results. &uot;We encourage the patient to do as much as possible and become as independent as possible.&uot;

Norma West said that the rehab concept sometimes takes extra effort for a nurse who is trained to help the patient and do tasks for him. &uot;This is a different service from what a nurse usually does.

Other statistics point out patient results the team can tout, Thompson said. &uot;We’re well above the national average in the number of patients able to go home and function at home.&uot;