By Cathy Bealer, RN, MHA, FACMPE, Chief Nursing Officer
Sheridan Memorial Hospital (SMH) strives to meet community and regional demand for patient care. In recent years we have become even more aware of the importance of growing and adapting in ways that add value for our patients and appropriately meet the needs of the Sheridan community and region. Providing care close to home ensures people are able to stay near their family and friends when health issues arise.
One area where care close to home is especially important is Transitional Care. Having a comfortable, private environment to heal and regain strength and confidence for a safe return home following a serious illness, injury, or surgery is critical.
SMH’s Transitional Care service began in 2005. Since then, our patients’ needs have continually grown. Today, the hospital averages eight to ten Transitional Care patients per day; however, we have had requests locally and regionally that surpass our ability to accept patients in the current space.
The good news is that over the last two and one-half years, the hospital and the SMH Foundation have been working toward the Transitional Care Expansion – repurposing the 2nd and 3rd floors of the original 1954 hospital building into a place where patients can recuperate and receive the rehabilitation services they need to regain a level of independence to safely return home or transition to a different level of care.
Our new Transitional Care Unit (TCU) is set to open in late summer and we are excited to expand our capacity to serve our community. The new unit has 20 comfortable private suites, each with its own bathroom. Complete with a private dining area and spacious therapy gym with striking views of the Big Horn Mountains, the 15,600 square feet space is a welcome expansion from our current 8-bed unit.
Tommi Ritterbusch, our new Transitional Care Manager, has played a pivotal role in the expansion. She says, “The TCU opening is an exciting time for our community as we now can offer 20 private rooms to patients who are working towards recovering and regaining strength to get them back home with their families. Having this new dedicated unit means patients have accessibility to these recuperative services in a beautiful setting with professionals who are dedicated to ensuring they have great experiences close to home.”
With a physician’s referral, our TCU is designed to help our patients meet their healthcare goals by providing rehabilitation and skilled nursing care. It provides coordination and continuity between various providers, services and settings. Our outstanding team of professionals serving these patients include physical, occupational, speech, pulmonary and respiratory therapists; nurses; case management and social workers; dietitians; pharmacists; and physicians.
This interdisciplinary team is one of the services most beneficial to any person’s successful transition from a hospital stay to home. The team meets regularly with each patient and/or their families and caregivers throughout their stay to ensure the TCU care provided is on track with individualized and established goals. After a serious illness or injury, it can be challenging to transition back to normal life, especially if the “new normal” is different. That’s where TCU care also steps in. It allows patients to take their time adjusting to a new quality of life, emotionally and physically. Days of care in the TCU range anywhere from 3 to 100 days, depending on individual patient circumstances and healthcare guidelines.
Our hospital’s case managers assist patients and their families when needed to determine the most appropriate setting for the next step or level of care. Individual needs are reviewed, discussed and assessed by the team in conjunction with each patient. This process may often include a visit to the patient’s home to ensure it is safe and set up correctly for success. Or it may be an opportunity to connect and introduce patients to other support services available in our area.
The expansion of our hospital’s TCU combines this unique care and the patient experience, ensuring a quality stay for patients in a separate environment. Patient goals vary but may include learning new skills, participating in activities, and socialization. This daily routine is also a significant component in preparing for the transition back home. Some of the activities include: cooking and baking in the TCU kitchen, completing laundry tasks, improving mobility through exercise either in the therapy gym or outside on the beautiful SMH campus, practicing entering and exiting a vehicle, and a beautiful group dining and activity area.
Every member of our SMH team desires to provide excellent care close to home for our Sheridan community. The TCU Expansion greatly enhances our ability to meet the needs of the patients we serve every day to ensure quality, safe care and help patients return to daily environments with the highest level of strength and functionality possible.