Medical Evaluation - Frequently Asked Questions

The Rehabilitation Medicine Center is a new service offering patients access to Rehabilitation Medicine Physicians. Dr. Michael D Wolk, Medical Director, and Kathy Stella, RN, CRNN, Assistant Vice President of Admissions and Case Management answer here some common questions you may have about this new service.

How is the Rehabilitation Medicine Center (RMC) different than my Doctor’s office?

Dr. Wolk: The sole purpose of the RMC is to help people who are experiencing weakness, pain, or other medical issues that make caring for themselves or moving around their home difficult. The goal is to determine the cause and limits of their functional difficulties and make rehabilitation referrals that will help to improve the patient’s function and quality of life.

The role of the RMC is not to replace your Primary Care Physician. It is a complementary service designed to most efficiently evaluate a person’s functional ability and connect them with the rehabilitation services that are most appropriate for their needs.

Kathy Stella: The RMC has the capability of evaluating patients for functional needs, as well as the comorbid conditions they already have, for example, diabetes, hypertension, things of that nature in today's society. We look at the whole patient and our physicians make a determination on the necessary treatment for patients. If the physician is of the opinion that there's something else medically going on, they will work with your primary care physician and or team of specialists in order to help facilitate your improvement.

What was the impetus for opening the Rehabilitation Medicine Center?

Dr. Wolk: We have seen an increasing number of patients falling through the cracks. I have seen patients who have been discharged from an acute care facility to home and they’re just not doing well at home. They're not feeling well. They’re not thriving. They’re maybe not receiving the post-acute services they need. In the worst cases, they end up back in the hospital. We want people to be safe at home. We want to prevent that by connecting these patients with the appropriate services to help them continue their recovery.

The RMC is a unique care setting. Although it is a distinct service, it is connected and part of our larger continuum of care at Allied Services. We can easily connect patients with appropriate services from home health to skilled nursing, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation

So we are going to follow people and their function. We're going to follow up and see, have they maintained their function? Maybe they were discharged from a skilled nursing facility and they're in their own home. We want to see, are we making a difference by evaluating them and providing them whatever additional support or care that is necessary in order for them to continue to be safely at home?

Who can benefit from the Rehabilitation Medicine Center?

Dr. Wolk: There are a variety of individuals who can benefit from a RMC consultation. These include the following patient groups.

  • Patients who have completed an inpatient rehabilitation stay: An RMC visit can help to ensure that the patient is thriving at home and has made a successful transition from the hospital to home. Our Physicians will make recommendations to ensure that the patient is continuing to progress in their recovery and has the services and support they need. A follow-up after discharge from inpatient rehabilitation can help to avoid a hospital readmission.
  • Patients who have been discharged from home health or outpatient rehabilitation: the second population or patients who've already been through their course of outpatient therapy, they've been through an inpatient stay their home. It's now three months later. Maybe they're not doing as well as they had hoped to, and they want to get a reassessment to see should I still be getting something else in order to improve my function.
  • Patients who have been discharged from an acute care hospital to home: An RMC visit can be very beneficial for patients who have recently been discharged from an acute care hospital. An evaluation can establish a.) if the patient has the support they need to live safely at home b.) if the patient needs additional rehabilitation in order to return to health and an independent lifestyle.
  • Patients who are struggling at home: As we age, we can experience loss of muscle strength, stamina and balance. Medications that we may take can affect our balance and mobility. We may not get the nutrition or exercise we need to maintain bone health and mobility. A brief illness can result in deconditioning and an inability to take care of everyday tasks necessary for well-being. In these cases, an RMC visit can assess the patient’s function and find ways to help restore some or all of that lost function.

I’m not sure what care I need. Is the Rehabilitation Medicine Center appropriate for me?

Kathy Stella: There are so many of us that are caregivers for family members, whether they're our children or our grandparents. You may find yourself in a situation where you're uncertain about what your family member needs. Perhaps they've already been in the hospital or they don't meet the requirements to be admitted to the hospital. You can call us and we will talk through your situation and determine whether a visit would be helpful.

Can I come to the Rehabilitation Medicine Center if I have been in hospital recently?

Kathy Stella: You can make an appointment at the RMC whether you are experiencing a new problem with your function at home or whether you have just been discharged from the hospital. Increasingly, people are getting in and out of the hospital much faster, and sometimes when they get home, they don't realize that they're just not able to care for themselves. At this point, they may need additional help at home or additional treatments to be able to be strong enough or mobile enough to live safely at home. An RMC visit can help to evaluate your needs and refer you to the most appropriate services.

Do I need a referral?

Dr. Wolk: In order to be seen in the RMC, you don’t need a prescription or referral. Certainly, you can talk with your Primary Care Physician about whether this is an appropriate evaluation for you. This is not something that would be unusual for a primary care physician to consider, as they already are familiar with Rehabilitation Medicine Physicians and how an evaluation can help you.

Can I walk into the Rehabilitation Medicine Center?

Kathy Stella: The RMC is not a walk-in facility open to the facility 7 days a week. You can make an appointment by calling the RMC. Our staff will discuss your concerns and schedule an appointment with one of our Rehabilitation Medicine Physicians.

Can I visit the Rehabilitation Medicine Center in an emergency?

Dr. Wolk: The RMC is not open to the general public and cannot provide emergency medical care. If you are not feeling well please see your Primary Care Physician. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911.

What can I expect from a visit to the RMC?

Kathy Stella: When you come to the RMC, it is just like any other Primary Care Physician appointment. You’ll check in at the front desk and complete the initial paperwork. You’ll then be seen by a Medical Assistant who will go over some of your important information.

Following that, you will meet with a Rehabilitation Medicine Physician. They will take a history from you, perform a physical exam, review any records or diagnostic tests that might be available, and then speak to you about the services that could help you.

Primarily, the focus is on function in conjunction with the patient's medical conditions. However, if there are any other concerns for the patient, we will certainly have that patient referred back to their family medicine doctors so they can manage other issues. The physicians at the RMC are very familiar with most conditions that impact a patient's function. For example, neurological conditions or orthopedic conditions, cardiac conditions, things of that nature. They can evaluate and recommend for just about any condition.

What kinds of services might I be referred to?

Dr. Wolk: Following an evaluation, our Rehabilitation Medicine Physicians may refer you to one or more rehabilitation services. That could be a matter of just some additional therapy, whether it's physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy. You may qualify for home health nursing and therapy services. You may find outpatient rehabilitation services sufficient. It could be even an inpatient stay in a facility where you would get more intensive rehabilitation, whether that is our rehabilitation hospital or our transitional rehab units.

The goal is to identify the type and intensity of therapy that will help the patient to regain the functions – mobility, strength, balance – that they have lost due to illness or injury. If we identify other medical issues that are impacting your health and well-being, we will work with your Primary Care Physician.

Getting started at the Rehabilitation Medicine Center

No referral is needed to see one of our Rehabilitation Medicine Physicians. Insurance coverage for this program is provided by most health insurance policies. Call 570.348.1211 to make an appointment or learn more here.

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