Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 15, 2001

St. Mary's offers rehabilitation services for residents and outpatients

By Patrice Waldron

St. Mary's Care Center in Winsted has many things to offer its residents. A few services that have been introduced during the past year include an array of rehabilitation services.

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech/language therapy are offered to St. Mary's residents and outpatients.

Bringing rehabilitation services to St. Mary's Care Center took about three and one-half years to complete. Offering in-house rehabilitation services has brought St. Mary's to the forefront in the overall care it can provide its residents.

The rehabilitation mission at St. Mary's Care Center is "To provide premier quality rehabilitative services which result in outstanding treatment outcomes for patients while meeting the highest standard of quality in the most cost effective and value-added manner."

There are five therapists on staff at St. Mary's, each with a specific area of expertise.

No matter what type of rehabilitation services a patient receives, the focus of treatment is on the total well-being of the patient. The idea is to provide "therapy to promote, obtain, and maintain the highest level of well-being," said Katie Hendrickson, occupational therapist at St. Mary's.

The therapists have a wide variety of training and experience, training which is far beyond what one normally finds in this setting, explained Hendrickson.

Occupational therapy uses goal-directed activity in the evaluation or treatment of persons whose ability to function is impaired by normal aging, illness, injury, or developmental disability.

The rehabilitation services area is handicapped accessible and has a convenient parking area. The room location changed in April from a windowless area in the lower level, to its present location.

The new rehabilitation area has large windows providing fresh air and a view outdoors for patients to enjoy while they perform their exercises.

Efforts are being made, according to Karyn Endreson, staff physical therapist, to adapt the room to the needs of outpatients as well as residents. They are hoping to bring in a PT table into the new area, and add treatments which would be used primarily for outpatients.

Therapists can work with up to four patients at one time in the work area.

There is a kitchen in the rehabilitation area which is used by the occupational therapist to ensure that patients who need to prepare meals for themselves are able to complete the task before going home.

The kitchen is also used for therapeutic recreation with the residents, so the rehabilitation area often smells like wonderful baked goods, said Donna Bradseth, occupational therapy assistant.

Patients who graduate from rehabilitation services often come by to "check in" with the therapists, see other acquaintances, or simply enjoy the view.

"The patients enjoy the new location. Sometimes patients even come for a visit before their appointment," said Deb Lynch, physical therapy assistant.

There is a rehabilitation wing at St. Mary's for sub-acute patient care. Patients who need therapy before they can go home, with a typical two- to three-week stay go here. Patients may be admitted after a stroke, a fall, or because of weakness. These patients can't take care of themselves, so they spend time on the rehabilitation wing gaining strength so they can go home or move to a less restrictive environment.

St. Mary's rehabilitation personnel are trained and licensed in their various specialties. The staff includes a physical therapist, a occupational therapist, a speech/language therapist, a physical therapy assistant, a rehabilitation aide, and professional support from specially trained clinical managers.

Conditions treated

· Post-operative: joint replacement, abdominal, back, and extremity surgery, and postlaryngectomy.

· Neurological: stroke, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and dementia.

· Musculoskeletal: arthritis, tendonitis, skin ulcers, fractures, amputations, and osteoporosis.

Services offered

Physical therapy:

· mobility training, pain management, home evaluation, and prosthetic and orthotic training.

· therapeutic exercise: strengthening, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and balance.

· therapeutic modalities: ultrasound, hot packs, cold treatment, electrical stimulation, and paraffin baths.

Speech and language services:

· articulation, language training, voice/fluency, swallow and oral-motor training, and strategies and techniques for memory loss.

Occupational therapy:

· sensorimotor assessment and training coordination, daily living skills, splinting/hand rehabilitation, visual/perceptual assessment and training, wheelchair seating/fitting, and prevention techniques.

Therapeutic activities are designed to help individuals adapt to their social and physical environment, given their functional capacity.

Some exercises include daily living skills such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Other exercises include daily living adaptation to sensory loss such as low-vision, so patients who experience a loss of sight may learn to live on their own.

Therapeutic activities for memory, orientation, and cognitive integration are offered.

Prevention and health promotion through pre-retirement planning for leisure time, socialization, joint mechanics, and joint protection are offered.

Other areas include activities which help patients learn to live independently following an illness or stroke. Many cognitive exercises are also practiced, working on the resident's memory.

Safety is an area which is very important. Patients are taught how to do things safely in order to avoid injury. Techniques which involve moving safely from the chair to the bed, or getting in and out of bed may help patients avoid an injury such as a broken hip.

Another positive aspect of offering rehabilitation services on-site is that the center's team approach to care is easier to implement with the therapists in the building.

If one of the resident's caregivers notices a decrease in mobility, an uneven gait, or unsteadiness, the rehabilitation staff will be notified, and they can screen the patient to determine if therapy is recommended.

The therapists perform periodic screen tests on all residents to make sure that if there is a change in things such as the resident's mobility, appropriate therapy can be started.

The therapists are also readily available to talk with either family or other staff members at team meetings, than when meetings had to be scheduled around when the therapists would be in the building, and not with other patients.

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