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Published on February 16, 2016

$4 million renovation of Lawrence Memorial Hospital unit nears completion

Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine St.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine St.

By Janice Early | Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When the renovated Center for Rehabilitation unit reopens on the fourth floor of Lawrence Memorial Hospital next week, patients and visitors will be greeted with a fresh new look highlighted by private rooms, open dining, a home-like family gathering area, a therapy gym and even an apartment to practice daily living skills.

The design continues the patient-friendly setting LMH is known for with a special emphasis on family involvement and convenience. Program Director Jaye Cole said while she is looking forward to the physical enhancements brought about by the renovation, the philosophy of the unit will not change.

“Our goal is to prepare patients to return home,” she said.

Patients affected by stroke, hip fractures and other debilitating illnesses or injuries can find follow-up care after an acute inpatient hospitalization stay by being admitted to the hospital’s fourth floor, which includes 12 acute rehabilitation beds and 14 skilled nursing beds. Both the acute rehabilitation and transitional care unit programs offer services to help patients return to the highest level of independence possible, although the types and intensity of services vary based on condition and level of rehabilitation required.

“The goal is to return the patient home as functionally independent as possible,” Cole said. “We work intensively on the essentials, such as walking, dressing, bathing, feeding, even swallowing.”

Staffed by physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, speech pathologists, social workers and round-the-clock nurses trained in rehabilitation, the unit relies on a strong interdisciplinary team approach to recovery. Physicians work closely with the staff through daily updates and weekly team meetings to devise a plan of treatment and a plan of discharge for each patient.

The team approach not only applies to the staff, but to the patients, as well. Patients work together during therapy sessions, and all patients dine together at a structured mealtime. Cole said the group format offers countless benefits.

“We try to simulate the home environment and make the unit not so institutionalized,” she said. “It really helps patients to see others at a higher level of recovery than themselves. And the social interaction actually helps some patients heal faster.”

There’s even a dedicated “apartment” on the unit for patients to practice activities of daily living. Although no one will actually stay in the apartment, it includes a kitchenette with a stove and refrigerator, a washer and dryer and a bathroom with a tub/shower to give patients the opportunity to work on the skills they need to master once they return home.

Cole believes the program can improve the quality of life in Lawrence and its surrounding communities. With an expected average length of stay of 10 to 12 days for acute rehabilitation patients and even longer for skilled nursing patients, the goal is to return patients home so they can resume a somewhat normal routine. That is an accomplishment Cole finds very rewarding. She said the rehabilitative approach has an important dimension to the continuum of services available.

Medical Director Shari Quick, MD, agreed, stating that the acute rehab unit does more than just correct an underlying medical problem; it creates strategies and techniques to help patients deal with their medical problems. Dr. Quick is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and serves as attending physician for patients on the unit.

“The Center for Rehabilitation enhances the continuum of care here in Lawrence,” Dr. Quick says. “Even if patients have to be transferred to Topeka or Kansas City for acute services we don’t offer at LMH, they don’t have to stay there for their rehabilitation. They can return here and recover close to home knowing they will be receiving excellent care.”

Terrie Kaiser, nursing director of the fourth floor units, noted that staff workflow and accessibility also will improve with updated nursing stations, physicians’ work space, renovated storage areas, ADA-compliant bathrooms in patient rooms, and spacious patient room entryways that allow for easy assisted movement and wheelchair transfers. The original unit was built in 1977.

The renovation cost about $4 million, and nearly half of the cost was funded through contributions to the LMH Endowment Association. The community is invited to get a sneak peek of what that community support built at a public open house from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Feb. 24. There will be a ribbon cutting and program at 4:30 p.m., followed by tours and refreshments.

For more information about the Center for Rehabilitation at LMH, visit lmh.org/acuterehab or call 785-505-6470.

— Janice Early, MBA, is Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at janice.early@lmh.org.

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