UPMC East unveils center that offers therapy for recovering surgery patients

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Sometimes the most menial objectives can be the most frustrating for a patient recovering from a life-changing surgery, occupational therapist Terra Moscalink said.

Turning the dial of a gas stove to off, sipping a glass of water or getting dressed in the morning are a few of the goals therapists will set for patients who suffered a stroke or underwent orthopedic surgery, said Moscalink, during a demonstration of her work last week at a UPMC East open house.

“It's getting them back to doing their daily routine,” she said.

“Cooking, cleaning, bathing and doing the laundry, kind of everything they need to do throughout the day that you don't really think about might be difficult for someone.”

UPMC East staff and administrators last week unveiled rooms, staff and services provided at the new UPMC East Rehabilitation Institute, which opened Tuesday.

The $400,000 renovation project on the sixth floor will provide necessary services and a few frills to treat post surgery patients for the first week and a half of rehabilitation, hospital administrators and doctors said.

Forbes Regional Hospital, located 2 miles away on Mosside Boulevard, also offers inpatient rehabilitation services.

The renovation process at UPMC East, which began in May, was conducted with the mindset of sunlight and space, UPMC East Director of Rehabilitation Operations Dan Butts said.

An example is the windows that stretch nearly the length of one wall in the training center.

“Having that large wall of windows, and the natural light …it's part of the recovery aspect,” Butts said.

New hires to staff the institute included about 15 nursing assistants, three physical therapists and three occupational therapists, along with rehabilitation aides, said Tamara Minton, UPMC East vice president of patient care.

A speech pathologist also was hired at the institute, as UPMC East officials expect to treat more stroke patients in the near future.

The hospital was named a stroke-certified center recently by the Joint Commission of Accreditation, an independent nonprofit organization that certifies more than 20,500 health-care organizations and programs nationwide.

The expected average length of stay for acute inpatient rehabilitation patients at UPMC East is 10 to 12 days, at which point they could move to an outpatient program or an extended-stay facility, hospital officials said.

During the recovery process in the hospital, digital screens in each of the rooms and at the nurses station allow patients, visitors and staff to keep track of rehabilitation appointments, which should prevent conflicts of schedules or visits.

“We have open visitation, so (family) always welcome,” Minton said.

“We're open for children, for anyone. They all help recover that patient, to be able to include those family members.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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