Rehab Awareness at Upper Valley Medical Center
When Michael Werts arrived at the UVMC Rehabilitation Unit following a major stroke, he had his work cut out for him.
So did the unit’s staff.
But, that’s the way of life in the 11-bed unit whose tasks includes helping people; often literally, get back on their feet through intensive rehabilitation services.
For Tipp City resident Werts, the rehab unit was the last place he thought he’d end up at age 53.
A stroke suffered during hip replacement surgery in January left him unable to talk or walk. He was hospitalized, and then moved to Springmeade in Tipp City before returning to Upper Valley Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Unit.
“I was petrified,” said Werts, who works for a safety services company and was pastor at Nashville United Church of Christ.
“They are very thorough. They made sure I stayed with my schedule,” Werts said. “I call it the boot camp. I was put through the paces.”
One of the younger people in the Rehabilitation Unit at the time, Werts participated in speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy during his stay and again can walk, eat with his right hand and sees continued improvement in his speech.
The Rehabilitation Unit works with those who were hospitalized for strokes, hip replacement, amputation, and knee or hip replacement, among others. About 50 percent of patients have had an orthopedic surgery, the other 50 percent have had a stroke or other neurological condition, said Pam Cornett, director of UVMC Rehabilitation Services.
Cornett said strict regulations require patients accepted into the unit to meet criteria before they arrive for rehabilitation. The patient must be able to participate actively in three hours of therapy a day, minimum. They have to be sick enough to require an inpatient stay, yet well enough to participate in therapy.
The goal: “to get the patient back in the community,” Cornett said.
In the unit, patient rooms are larger than acute care to facilitate independence. A dining room allows the unit’s patients to go to meals in street clothing and the large gym provides space for physical and occupational therapy.
An area is set aside to allow patients to practice activities of daily living before they are released from the unit.
A unique feature is the therapeutic garden, a gift from Dr. E.R. Torrence, a radiologist. The outdoor garden features surfaces – bricks, gravel, mulch and stone – that allow for practice of ambulation and planters of various heights provide support for other exercises by those in rehabilitation.
“The therapeutic garden is a restful, healing place, a nice place for patients and visitors to see, enjoy the color and the atmosphere,” said Mary Jo Brewer, nursing team manager for the Rehabilitation Unit.
During their stay, patients can receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, rehabilitation nursing services and assistance from a neuropsychologist, to help with adjustments they may need to make in their daily lives.
Staff confers weekly on patients and progress.
“The outcome expected really needs to be the return to home,” Cornett said.
Brewer said rehabilitation’s purpose is to help people function as independently as they can and train family or caregivers to help in areas where assistance is needed. As part of the planning process, staff can help obtain needed equipment and make referrals to agencies to meet each patient’s continuing needs. UVMC provides a continuum of care from inpatient to outpatient and home health services.
“I think Miami County is very lucky to have an inpatient rehabilitation unit in the county. Rehabilitation patients do best when they are close to home where family can visit, be involved in the program and support the patient through the process,” Brewer said.
The rehabilitation unit sees about 250 patients a year. Approximately 100 people are employed in rehabilitation services at UVMC, with 32 at the inpatient unit.
Paul Bailey, 86, of Troy was fully functional until a “fateful night” last spring when he suffered a stroke at home, his daughter, Judy Wiegman, said.
Bailey was a hospital patient for one week before being transferred to the Rehabilitation Unit in late March.
He stayed in the unit one month before receiving therapy at home for one month. That was followed by two months of outpatient physical and speech therapy at the outpatient rehabilitation department at UVMC, which is located just minutes from Bailey’s home.
After the stroke, Bailey had no use of his right side, which affected his speech, and was told he likely wouldn’t walk.
Within a month, he was walking with a cane and, at the end of the second month, without assistance. He has regained about 85-90 percent of both his speech abilities and use of his right arm .
“He pushed himself to succeed,” Wiegman said. She said her father’s 30 years of work in reflexology likely contributed to his progress in recovery.
“All of the people here were very nice, very accommodating. He’s pleased. He’d do whatever they asked and try to do more. They are the experts. They know what you need to do to be where you need to be,” Wiegman said.
Bailey said his association with the unit and its staff has been “tremendous.”
Today, Werts volunteers at Springmeade and is able to travel thanks to assistance of family and friends. “I go around spreading cheer,” he said of his Springmeade tasks. He also has returned to an interest in singing.
“I am blessed. I feel blessed in every way,” he said.
More information on the UVMC Rehabilitation Services is available by calling Jeanne Earick, admissions coordinator, at 440-4861 or by visiting the web at uvmc.com. Tours of the unit can be scheduled and a stroke survivors’ support group meets the third Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. in the lower level classrooms at Upper Valley Medical Center. The group is open to stroke survivors and caregivers.