The third week in September is National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, and Lowcountry residents should know they have an extraordinary local resource in North Charleston’s MUSC Health Rehabilitation Hospital, an affiliate of Encompass Health, which bears the distinction of being the largest rehabilitation specialist in the nation.
“Our niche is rehabilitation medicine,” said MUSC Health Rehabilitation Hospital Business Development Director Maritza Kirkpatrick, RN, MBA, MSN. “We can help anyone who needs rehab services.”
Their highly accredited rehabilitation programs include treating patients recovering from stroke, hip fracture, spinal injuries, brain injuries, amputations, multiple trauma, neurological disorders and burn injuries. MUSC Rehab Hospital’s stroke rehabilitation program assists individuals with re-learning daily activities such as dressing, grooming, feeding and walking. They also have a specialized program that works with individuals diagnosed with early onset dementia.
Recovery programs feature three hours a day of rehab with physical therapists. The interdisciplinary team approach incorporates occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, nurse practitioners, a medical doctor, dieticians, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and a case management team. Additionally, MUSC Rehab Hospital has a specialist in neurological disorders and its own in-house pharmacy that dispenses medications. The hospital accepts patients on dialysis as well and has nurses to assist with treatment.
“We really are flexible, and we try to accommodate everyone,” stated Kirkpatrick.
Doctor of Physical Therapy Christy Yatagan has headed MUSC Rehab Hospital’s rehabilitation gym for the past 10 years. The large gym features innovative technology and state-of-the-art equipment such as an Auto-Ambulator®, a sophisticated treadmill device utilizing robotics designed to help stroke patients maintain their balance and safely walk so they can reach their full potential. An automobile simulator, which adapts to different heights depending on whether patients drive a car or truck, teaches how to drive again.
At discharge, MUSC Rehab Hospital conducts training with caregivers in a mock family room setup to aid with the adjustment of caring for loved ones under these new circumstances.
MUSC Rehab Hospital has been successful in getting people back into the community to resume their way of life and avoid spending time in a skilled nursing facility. A patient’s average length of stay in the Rehab Hospital is 12.7 days versus an average stay of 37.3 days in a skilled nursing facility, Kirkpatrick noted.
She cited a statistic: of the 800,000 annual stroke victims, two-thirds will require rehab. The likelihood of hospital readmission doubles without rehab.
National Rehab Awareness Week
For National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, MUSC Rehab Hospital is planning on teaming up and “taking our show on the road.”
One of its liaisons is graciously donating an RV so that MUSC Rehab Hospital representatives can visit their partners and provide educational talks and demonstrations of services and training. In addition to outlining its mission, these teaching opportunities allow hospital representatives to explain what physical and occupational therapy entails and why both are essential.
The RV tour will travel to every place the Rehab Hospital serves. Nearly all the hospital’s nurses are certified rehabilitation registered nurses, which, she explained, is a challenging and time-consuming credential to earn.
“This is something that distinguishes us from other hospitals,” she asserted. “It shows the commitment that we have for our patients and that we deliver the best care in our hospital.”
For more information, visit www.encompasshealth.com/charlestonrehab.