Millions of dollars invested in rehabilitation technology and a greater focus on continuity of care helped vault a Northeast Pennsylvania rehab hospital to the top of its class.
Allied Rehab Hospital in Scranton is the top-ranked inpatient rehab facility among the 770-plus evaluated nationwide, according to a model compiled by Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation, a nonprofit affiliated with the University at Buffalo.
The model evaluates discharge information, such as a patient’s functional independence measures, length of stay efficiency rates and the percentage of patients discharged back to acute care facilities. It also factors in the change in a patient’s independence measures, such as walking and eating, from arrival to departure.
More than 1,400 facilities worldwide subscribe to the nonprofit, which was created to develop a method to document the severity of patient disability and the outcomes of medical rehabilitation.
“We constantly focus on what we can do to get patients home a little sooner, or what we can do to make sure they don’t go back to the hospital,” said Robert Cole, Ph.D., vice president of systems improvement services at Allied Services Integrated Health System. “We’re investing in the best technology we can to assist patients in their progression.”
Since June 2012, Allied Services spent about $20 million across its system in rehabilitation technology and facility upgrades, including the implementation of an electronic health record system, said James Brogna, assistant vice president of advancement.
Among the hospital’s new technological features is the NeuroCom EquiTest, used to identify possible sensory, neurological or biomechanical impairments causing a patient’s balance problem.
Meanwhile, the hospital’s ZeroG system, another relatively new addition, helps patients stand and start to walk earlier in the rehabilitation. The system uses a ceiling-mounted harness system, which can vary the body-weight support and limit a patient’s walking speed, Mr. Brogna said.
“One of the biggest fears after someone comes in from a neurological condition is the fact that they are going to fall again,” he said. “You can allay that fear by using that device, because it will stop the patient before they fall.”
While the technology advancements have enhanced therapists’ efforts to shorten a patient’s length of stay, officials have also focused on monitoring patients after discharge. Officials make routine calls to make sure a patient arrived home, got a necessary prescription filled or started the scheduled out-patient training.
Hospital officials are discussing adding an initiative similar to a nurse navigator program, in which a nurse or therapist would regularly check on patients with a high risk of readmission, or those who might not be able to get to scheduled appointments, Dr. Cole said.
“It’s another quality angle we’re looking at to say, ‘Can we do a better job of shoring that up to make sure that we are able to advance the gains the patient has made in the rehab hospital,’â” he said. “We are trying to build a culture of continuous improvement.”
March 23rd, 1998 was a day that changed Sabina Ehrenhardt’s life forever, but the Beach Lake has no memory of it. She only ‘recalls’ what she has been told by family and friends. 16 years on, she shares her story in the hopes that it will inspire others and create understanding for people recovering from traumatic brain injury.
Oh, and possibly land her on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. The accident hasn’t robbed Sabina of her sense of humor or passion for life.
On the evening of March 23rd, 1998, 20 year old Sabina is involved in a side-on collision along Route 6 near Tunkhannock. The car she is riding in spins out of control, crossing the center line and sliding sideways into the oncoming traffic.
Sabina is sitting in the passenger seat, seat belt buckled. She bears the full force of the impact as the van driving in the opposite direction, unable to stop, strikes her door at 55 miles per hour.
Everyone but Sabina walks away from the crash.
Her right pelvic bone is shattered, her collar bone, right eye socket and ribs fractured, her liver lacerated. The bleeding is so extensive that before night’s end, she will have a full body transfusion. She will lie in a coma for six weeks, medical staff reluctant to offer hope that she will ever recover. CAT scans reveal that there is bleeding from the brain stem. She has suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Sabina and her family don’t dwell on that day. Instead, they remark on the series of miracles and the special individuals that have brought them to where they are today.
Take for example, the five EMTs and the New York State ambulance that were driving behind Sabina. Thanks to them, she is given a chance to live. They call for help, stabilize her and within minutes, she is life-flighted to the trauma center at CMC, now Geisinger Community Medical Center.
Less than three weeks after the accident, Sabina is life-flighted to Hershey Medical Center. Although she is still in a semi-comatose state, Dr. Spence Reid successfully operates on her pelvis. Sabina is still in contact with the man she credits with giving her the chance to walk again.
Eight weeks after the accident, Sabina is moved to Heinz Rehab Hospital in Wilkes-Barre. Here, she begins the long and painful process of recovery. She must relearn everything, from swallowing and eating to walking and writing. Her family is beside her throughout the gruelling physical and occupational therapy sessions.
“Watching Sabina in therapy was hard” remembers Sabina’s father, Joseph. “She was in so much pain at times that she would scream at the therapists.”
“They pushed her because they knew what she needed to do to recover. I’ll never forget the love and care she received at Heinz Rehab Center. The day that she smiled and spoke for the first time will stay with me forever.” That was just one week after Sabina began therapy at Heinz Rehab Center.
Since the accident, Sabina has dealt with constant pain and setbacks. She still has short-term memory issues and struggles to concentrate.
She has also celebrated milestones that in the days and weeks following the accident, her family thought would never be possible. Sabina passed her driving test with flying colors and lived independently for 6 years before returning to her family’s home in Beach Lake. She completed a 2-year degree in medical office administration and hopes to find work in that field.
Sabina remains in contact with the physical therapist from Heinz Rehab Center who she credits with teaching her to walk again. The two formed an enduring bond.
“We shared so much. I wouldn’t be walking today if it wasn’t for her.”
Today, Sabina and her therapist share happier experiences, like becoming mothers. Sabina describes her daughter, Jessica, as ‘bubbly’ and ‘a handful’. Keeping up with her is what motivates Sabina to persevere with the exercises she learned during physical therapy.
To this day, Sabina and her family believe that God kept her here for a purpose. Maybe to inspire others?
“I have the same issues that everyone has, the same day-to-day worries about the small stuff. When I think of what could have happened and the people that helped me get my life back, it puts it in perspective.”
“You can’t focus on the things you can’t control. You just have to place your trust in God and keep working towards your goals.”
Heinz Senior Rehab Care, Wilkes-Barre Township, has been ranked among the Nation’s best nursing homes, according to newly published U.S. News & World Report results. The magazine ranked nearly rates nearly 16,000 nursing homes, using 2013 data from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Only 3,867 earned a Five-Star (top) overall rating. Quality measures, nurse staffing and health inspection ratings are factored into the overall rating. Five-star nursing homes display a badge recognizing their “Best Nursing Home” status.
the 2012-2013 report comes with our sincere thanks for our donors generous support. The gifts we received helped us to advance the health, life quality and independence of thousands of people in northeastern Pennsylvania with disabilities, serious injuries and illnesses.
Click here to download the report.
Residents of Allied Services Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center in Scranton are enjoying the benefits of an ancient Chinese martial art, Tai Chi. The self-paced series of gentle movements that comprise this non-competitive martial art help to promote physical and mental well-being in participants. In addition, the exercises build core strength in participants, an important tool in preventing falls in wheelchair users.
In December 2013, Erin Wanick, Director of Activities and Lenore Shiner, Activities Assistant at Allied Services Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center received training in Tai Chi specifically for nursing home residents. Residents at the Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center take part in a variety of exercises. The twice-weekly Tai Chi classes, introduced in early 2014, have grown in popularity with the residents. “It feels good to exercise. We look forward to the classes every week” commented Dorothy Kavulich, a regular member of the class.
Pictured, from left: Helen Skoridowski (resident), Lenore Shiner (Activities Assistant) and Monice Cook, (resident) practice Tai Chi at Allied Services Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center in Scranton.
Allied Services Integrated Health System has been chosen by the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) to provide expert insights for free training videos designed to improve home-based care across the Commonwealth. Allied Services staff contributed to three separate training videos that will be available to professional caregivers on the website www.pahomecare.org under ‘My Learning Center’.
Stephanie Falvo, RD, from Allied Services Home Health and Denise Piepoli, RN, BSN, CDE, from Allied Services Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center offered advice on the importance of good nutrition for diabetics and the identification of dehydration. Allied Services Home Health has earned the HomeCare Elite™ award for six consecutive years, recognizing them as one of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States.
Linda Rotundo, a Direct Care Worker for Allied Services In-Home Services shared experiences that will be part of a training video on the role of Direct Care Workers for consumers receiving palliative hospice care at home. When asked about appearing in the video, Linda commented “If it helps another caregiver to do their job better, I’m happy to help.”
Allied Services provides in-home care in 22 counties in the commonwealth, offering services that promote independence and assist with activities of daily living for persons with disabilities and older adults.
Pictured, from left: Tracy Hunt, AVP In-Home Services, Mary Lou Knabel, VP of Home Care Services. Seated from left Linda Rotundo, Direct Care Worker, Jessica Robinson, Program Nurse.
by Julie Corponai. Re-posted from Happenings Magazine.
Allied Services prides itself on “miracles in rehab, performed daily.” For John Monahan, the statement could not be more true. A Brooklyn native and retired New York City homicide detective, Monahan suffered a series of three strokes between early December 2011 and late January 2012. While preparing to return home to Scranton from New York, he felt a strange sensation in his hands, then dropped his soda and keys. Luckily, his wife, Marie, Director of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Allied Services, recognized the signs of stroke and rushed him to Lenox Hill Hospital.
The stroke upended every aspect of the Monahans’ life. He lost the use of his hands, could not walk, had difficulty with his visual perception and needed help with nearly everything. “You realize incrementally what you took for granted, how the simplest things become a monumental feat,” says Monahan.
Stroke causes impaired sensation, movement, and intellectual processes and occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced. Within minutes, oxygen and food cannot reach the tissue, and the cells begin to die. According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, striking nearly 800,000 and causing death for more than 137,000.
Initially, Monahan began his rehab therapy at a renowned facility in New York. “During 20 years of rehab work, I’ve never seen a stroke that severe,” says his wife. However, the Monahans found the protocol less rigorous than what she was accustomed to at Allied, and they made the decision to bring him to Scranton.
She credits the strides he has made to the team of therapists at Allied. While she always appreciated how hard her fellow therapists worked, she never fully realized the depth of their devotion until she saw their work first hand, not just with her husband, but with all of their patients. One of the most severe symptoms Monahan experienced from the stroke is “pusher syndrome,” or an altered perception of body, causing him to feel that he was upright when he was actually severely tilted to the left. Allied therapists used ZeroG, one of the world’s most advanced systems for people relearning how to walk. Wearing a fitted harness, the system allows the patient to balance and stand without having to carry their full weight.
Monahan never experiences any down time in his therapy as his wife pushes him to go further in his recovery. “I always try to think what it would be like to be him, how I am going to help him without driving him insane,” she says. “She’s good at trying new ways to get me to go further and is always insightful in what she says,” says Monahan. Today, he is able to climb stairs to the second floor of their home, help with the cooking and enjoy dinner out at favorite restaurants with friends. An avid fly fisher and hunter before the stroke, he hopes to be able to get back to his pasttime when fishing season opens this year.
Recovery has its ups and downs. “There are days we fell we are at the top of the mountain, but we know there are five million more things to achieve,” she says. Luckily, the couple’s difficult days rarely happen at the same time. They have a running joke that when everything is okay, Monahan will buy his wife a tiara. They are not there yet, but hope to be someday.
The Michael J. Aronica, M.D., Wellness Center (Aronica Wellness Center) at Allied Services in Scranton now accepts members with Silver Sneakers wellness insurance coverage. The Aronica Wellness Center is open 6 days a week and offers former patients and individuals in the community a specialized exercise program to maintain or improve their health. The facility offers guidance from exercise physiologists who have been specially trained to work with individuals who are healthy or may be dealing with certain medical conditions.
Allied Services accepts Silver & Fit, Forever Fit, and now, Silver Sneakers. Discounts are available for individuals on disability and subscribers to Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Geisinger Health Insurance.
SilverSneakers is a fun, energizing program that helps older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity and offering social events. To find out if you’re health plan includes Silver Sneakers visit www.silversneakers.com.
For details on wellness membership and participation contact the Aronica Wellness Center at 570-341-3051.
Lewis Hackling is no stranger to injury. The 19 year old Noxen native has been playing hockey with younger brother Hunter since he was only 4 years old. He played for the Little Flyers for 3 years and competes in the Northern State Junior Hockey League. He’s had two serious concussions and just last month he took a puck to the mouth.
When Lewis suffered an injury during a December 2011 game however, he faced a whole new set of challenges. A student at Lake Lehman High School at the time, Lewis played in the 2011 Casey Classic. During the game, Lewis collided with another player and fell. He skated to the bench and then went back out on the ice, but when he tried to turn, his right knee gave way. An MRI revealed that he’d injured his right ACL.
In February 2012, he had surgery to repair his damaged ACL and began physical therapy in the Sports Medicine program at Heinz Rehab in Wilkes-Barre the very next day. After more than a month away from the sport, he was frustrated with his injury. “I wanted to skate the next day, but it just wasn’t going to happen.”
Lewis entered therapy with mixed feelings. He knew other players who had come to Allied Services and been successful, but he worried that he would be away from the game for months on end. “Before I came here, I thought therapy was just somewhere you came to sit and stretch, maybe get a massage.”
He soon discovered that rehabbing from an injury required many of the same traits needed to be a successful hockey player; determination, dedication, drive. His new ‘coaches’, physical therapists Theresa Stook and Mark Rowan, customized his treatment to the demands of his sport, selecting exercises that mimicked the motions hockey players make on the ice.
In addition to the three weekly therapy sessions, Lewis worked out at home, practicing some of the exercises demonstrated in therapy.
“Therapy was like anything that you want to be good at. If you want something, you have to strive for it, put in the extra hours.”
Always the competitive athlete, Lewis pushed back. Once he was strong enough, they took the training outside, running laps of the parking lot. Theresa, who was training for the New York City marathon at the time, remembers struggling to keep up!
The partnership between Lewis and this therapists and their combined dedication to getting him back to full health paid huge dividends for Lewis. By June, he was taking his first tentative steps on the ice. By September he was back to playing competitive hockey.
The doctors said I would be out for 9 months but I was back skating in 6 months. I couldn’t have done it without them. It was hard, but I loved therapy and coming to Heinz.”
Lewis is now a pre-med student at Marywood University. Most nights of the week you can find him at the Coal Street ice rink, practicing alongside Hunter and his Wilkes Barre Miners teammates.
Re-posted from The Pocono Record.
Linda Albertson of Sciota left high school in 1965 at the age of 17, with few options for the future.
The petite girl was born legally blind and with intellectual disabilities.
She was unemployable.
She didn’t fit into the model of society that existed in the 1960s. Programs for the disabled were rare. People like Linda were either institutionalized or kept behind closed doors.
Society didn’t believe their lives had value.
Yet Linda’s parents, like others with disabled children, wanted to make her life meaningful. Parents like Linda’s led to the creation of Burnley in 1964. Burnley is a vocational rehabilitation facility that provides training and employment, all focused on giving individuals with disabilities opportunities for a meaningful, purposeful life.
Linda was among the original employees in 1965, when the workshop received its first major contract, to solder parts of a tiny amplifier for the Army. The client — the Tobyhanna Army Depot.
Linda had a rocky start.
She became frustrated with her vision problems, and that made her difficult to work with. Linda’s disabilities led to confidence issues.
Day after day, she’d say “I can’t do it.” Yet each time, a supervisor would tell her, “You CAN do it.”
Their patience and encouragement made the difference.
Eventually, Linda became the workshop’s most skilled worker, assembling by hand 6-foot wire brushes for the Weiler Corp.
And with that came confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. Qualities we all, disabled or not, strive to achieve.
For Linda, having self-confidence brought her out and helped her to make friends.
That’s one of the things that Burnley does. It doesn’t just give people jobs. It exists because it believes in a person’s potential. Burnley helps them to be the best versions of themselves, the workshop’s Charlotte Wright said.
Linda, now 65, wore a rosey red velvet dress accessorized with a well-coordinated red beret when we met. My initial impression of her thick glasses and reluctant speech faded quickly behind her dignity and personality.
Linda tired during our late afternoon conversation and her head began to slump. I asked her what she does with the money she earns at Burnley.
Linda sat straight up, her shoulders back, her eyes looking right at mine. “I save it,” she said proudly.
Linda is Burnley’s longest employed worker, celebrating 49 years there. She’s just one of a small group who have reached retirement age but refuse, choosing to work instead.
Burnley has existed for 50 years because of the community’s goodwill.
That’s what it will take to ensure it’ll be around another 50 years from now.
And I believe it will.
Because there are people in this world who value every life.