|FirstHealth really emphasizes the importance of
spending one-on-one time with our patients and
not being in a hurry to get them in and out,” says
Jill Botnick, director of Outpatient and Regional
Rehabilitation Services. “We have an exceptional staff
of caring people who look at each patient’s needs and then
help them get better.”
Rehabilitation services—physical therapy (PT), occupational
therapy (OT) and speech/language pathology—are provided
to inpatients at all three FirstHealth hospitals and at six
outpatient clinics. Therapists see patients with many different
problems including back and joint pain, dizziness, brain
injuries and stroke, as well as patients recovering from various
types of surgery.
Rehab for stroke patients often includes a combination of
therapies (PT to build strength and improve balance, OT
to help manage daily tasks such as dressing and bathing, and
speech therapy to help with talking and swallowing).
The inpatient Center for Rehabilitation at Moore Regional
consistently achieves high scores for getting patients back on
their feet and back home.
“Our average length of stay is shorter than that of the region
and the nation,” says Linda DeYoung, administrative director
of FirstHealth Rehabilitation Services. “Our patients go home
sooner, and when we follow up on them after discharge, we
find that a high percentage have been able to maintain their
gains and do really well.”
Most of the outpatient rehab clinics are based in the
FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness, where patients
have full access to the equipment and pools. Heather Buie,
director of Rehabilitation Services at Richmond Memorial Hospital
in Rockingham, says many patients with arthritis in their hips or
knees benefit from aquatic therapy.
Richmond also has an “un-weighting” system that supports
patients while they are using a treadmill. For example, it can help
stroke patients who have difficulty using one side of their bodies.
“It allows them to re-learn the motions of walking without
having to bear all of their body weight,” Buie says.
At Montgomery Memorial Hospital in Troy, “We see patients
with all types of needs,” says Mike Shutt, director of Rehabilitation
Services. “We specialize in being generalists.”
The Center for Inpatient Rehabilitation
at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital
in Pinehurst has been accredited by
CARF International as an adult inpatient
rehabilitation program and a stroke specialty
Founded in 1966 as the Commission on
Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities,
CARF establishes consumer-focused standards
to help organizations measure and improve
the quality of their programs and services. A
CARF-accredited organization has put itself
through a rigorous peer review process and
demonstrated to a team of surveyors during
an on-site visit that its programs and services
are of the highest quality and are measurable
Moore Regional received its fifth
consecutive three-year accreditation in 2008.
Montgomery Memorial has a unit for patients who need to be in
the hospital for rehabilitation following a stroke, joint replacement,
heart surgery or other major procedure.
“Patients can stay there while we help them get their strength
and conditioning back,” Shutt says. “The unit is staffed by the same
therapists who see outpatients. That’s a big asset, because it means
we can provide greater continuity of care.”
In light of the current economic slump, FirstHealth’s rehab staffs
are making a special effort to lower patients’ costs.
“For example, we are trying to reduce the number of outpatient
therapy sessions some patients need,” DeYoung says. “We have
them come in for fewer but longer sessions and give them more to
work on at home, and that helps keep their expenses down.”
Along with traditional therapies, the rehabilitation services offered
at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital include several new,
With “Wii-habilitation,” patients use the Nintendo Wii interactive
video game system to improve their balance, endurance and range of
motion. Wii players use a cordless device that detects motion to control
the on-screen movements of people competing in various sports.
For patients who have difficulty walking because of a condition
called “foot drop,” the Bioness system includes a leg cuff that delivers
mild electrical stimulation to the calf muscles. This helps lift the foot,
allowing the patient to walk without assistance.
Some patients with stiffness, muscle spasms and certain types of pain
respond well to Anodyne therapy, which uses near-infrared light energy
to create heat that dilates the blood vessels and increases circulation.
One of the most popular rehabilitation therapies offered at Moore
Regional doesn’t seem like therapy at all. It involves petting and
playing with dogs. (See related story.)
“It’s amazing how much animal-assisted therapy can help patients
progress,” says Linda DeYoung, administrative director of FirstHealth
Rehabilitation Services. “For example, we had a patient who would
hardly walk. But when the dog came in, he would walk across the room
to pet it and toss a ball for it. We are looking at expanding animalassisted
therapy to our outpatient program, because we have had such
great results with inpatients.”
The “Wii-habilitaton” and Animal-Assisted Therapy programs were funded
by disbursements from the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation.