BY MARK GILGER JR.
Published: December 9, 2015
SHENANDOAH HEIGHTS — Ridgeview Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center is rolling out a new pulmonary rehabilitation program for both its short-term patients and long-term residents who suffer from chronic breathing problems.
The latest specialized rehabilitation program expands on the physical, occupation and speech therapies already being offered at the nursing facility.
“The most important part of the pulmonary program is education,” Paul Jacobs, senior rehab director at Ridgeview, said Tuesday. “We want to educate the patients on what their disease is and the process of the disease so they have an idea of how to manage their own diseases.”
Aspects of the program include home safety, energy conservation and breathing techniques. Vital signs are also being monitored the whole time, Jacobs said.
“We want the resident to know the appropriate ranges so they are not going to the hospital too soon or too late,” Jacobs said.
Eventually, it will evolve into a cardiopulmonary program that will include rehab for both heart and lung diseases.
“Those two diagnoses go hand in hand,” Jacobs said.
The program is being started at a time when hospitals are trying to reduce the number of returning patients. As part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, Medicare will now penalize hospitals for excessive readmissions.
Ridgeview is still finalizing the qualifications for the program, Jacobs said.
“We already have established our short-term rehab program and I strongly believe it is a strong and efficient program,” he said. “Basically, we are kind of building off the existing program.”
Frank Marchese, general manager for Nationwide Health Care Services, which owns Ridgeview, said they are working with the Schuylkill Health network to use the program as an extension of the hospital’s own rehabilitation program. Ridgeview is also getting new lab equipment to get instant results for things like blood tests.
“Our goal is to prevent hospital readmissions and receive people from the home if they need our level of care, so we expanded our services so we could do more care in this facility,” Donna Howard, director of clinical services at Nationwide, said.
Howard said many patients will be able to continue living at home.
“Other people, this is going to be their home,” she said. “They are going to be long-term residents here, but we still want to maximize their activities tolerance, their independence. Either way, we want them to be the best they can be.”
“We are not going to be able to cure a lot of their problems, but we can certainly make sure everyone can live with them and independently,” Howard said.
For example, Howard said the program can help people do activities without needing their oxygen tanks.
“Something like that can make a huge difference in someone’s quality of life,” she said.
Ridgeview currently has 79 residents and about 15 to 20 people participating in its short-term rehabilitation program.
Louise Bekisz, administrator at Ridgeview, said many of the residents at the facility suffer from breathing issues.
“Because you sit right in the middle of the Coal Region, people worked in the mines and respiratory issues are very prevalent,” Bekisz.
“I think this area is certainly in need of a pulmonary program,” Dr. Robert Thurick, medical director for the facility, said. “At the end of the day, it is better care for the patients.”
For more information about Ridgeview Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and its rehabilitation programs, visit its website at www.ridgeviewhealthcare.com.