Skilled care is readily available for most Medicare patients if they require rehabilitation services and have a qualifying acute care stay in the hospital of three days or more. The “swing” in care from acute to a skilled level of care allows them to remain in the hospital until they are feeling more able to take care of themselves at home.
Joan Bieber of Waukon was experiencing a terrible pain in her side last July and came into the ER at Veterans Memorial Hospital. She had a CT scan right away which showed colon cancer. Having used the hospital’s swing bed program once before, she knew she would request to spend time on swing bed skilled care at Veterans Memorial Hospital following her surgery.
Joan had a successful surgery at Gundersen in La Crosse where they were able to remove all of the cancer in her colon. She did need some acute care recovery time following her extensive surgery, but as she improved, the topic of going onto swing bed skilled care came up.
“I was so happy that La Crosse actually recommended I come here to Veterans Memorial Hospital for my skilled care,” explains Joan. “They said I had 10 different options in the tri-state area, but they recommended my hometown hospital…. just where I wanted to be! I was honored I qualified for swing bed care at Veterans Memorial Hospital.”
Veterans Memorial Hospital encourages older Americans to take advantage of swing bed, skilled care services following a surgery or injury for a fuller and quicker recovery. Patients who are placed on swing bed skilled care usually remain in the hospital for one to two weeks. They experience one-on-one rehabilitation at least twice daily and are in a safe environment with quality nursing care at hand 24 hours a day.
“I had such tremendous care at Veterans Memorial. Everyone is so nice in that small hospital and I want to do everything I can to be sure we can keep VMH here,” states Joan. “The rooms are so clean which is very important in a hospital and the food is just outstanding. They even make meals suitable for seniors which is so helpful. I am so thankful I was able to come here to prepare me to go home on my own.”
Like many health care services and tests, Veterans Memorial Hospital encourages all patients to ASK if their care can be delivered locally.
“We encourage patients to ask their provider if they can qualify for skilled care and if so, to ask to come to VMH where they can be close to their homes and families,” states Tatum Iverson, Social Worker at Veterans Memorial Hospital. “It is a very helpful option to the spouse or caregiver of the patient. Instead of the patient being discharged directly to their home and needing 24-hour care, the patient can receive that type of care right in the hospital without wearing out their spouse or family member. Medications are given, pain is controlled and most importantly, the patient qualifies for more rehabilitation than if they are discharged directly to their home.”
All skilled level patients have their therapy sessions twice per day, Monday through Friday. If they are discharged to their home, they receive much less therapy than that, plus the caregiver has to load them up and bring them in for the therapy each time.
“We see the skilled level patients accelerate in their recovery much faster than the patients who elect to go home right away,” states Amy Robinson, Rehabilitation Director at Veterans Memorial Hospital. “Having therapy twice a day as a skilled patient is much more than a patient who goes home right away. Staying here really helps them advance in their recovery and allows them to be much more independent and safe when they do get home.”
“I am so thankful to Brad Krambeer for my rehabilitation care at VMH. He was a huge help in my recovery at the hospital,” adds Joan. “I have decorated a Christmas tree for many of the Christmas Fantasies and donated many vintage sock monkeys to the silent auctions. I am also a member of the Auxiliary of VMH and will continue to do everything I can to support that wonderful facility.”
For questions on qualifying for swing bed skilled care, please contact Tatum Iverson, Social Worker at Veterans Memorial Hospital, at 563-568-3411.