All posts by Angelo Antoline

Hospitals and Disasters

Are hospitals prepared for disasters?

The short answer is…yes.

All hospitals are required by laws, regulations, or accreditation requirements to plan for disasters.

Hospitals prepare for both internal and external disasters. Internal disasters are events that occur inside the hospital building like a fire, flood, or power outage and have potential to affect services.

An external disaster is one like Hurricane Harvey or Irma that occurs outside the hospital. This includes severe weather conditions, chemical incidents, or large-scale community accidents. In these situations, the disaster can affect the operations of the hospital or cause an influx of patients to a hospital, depending on the situation and type of hospital.

Every disaster is different. Hospitals prepare for a variety of situations through ongoing planning and practice. This helps everyone understand what to do and how to do it to ensure patients’ safety and well-being.

Read More

Recognizing a Concussion

With fall around the corner, participation in football and other cooler-weather sports and activities will grow – along with the potential for concussions.

A concussion is a brain injury that’s caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body. Concussion symptoms can occur immediately or days/weeks later. Signs of a concussion can include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Concentration or memory issues
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Feeling sluggish/”foggy”
  • Light sensitivity

Early treatment of the symptoms of a concussion may help speed recovery and prevent further injury down the road. If an incident occurs and you suspect a concussion, ask the person immediately and then again a few minutes later:

  • What day is it?
  • What month is it?
  • Repeat these words: Girl, dog, green (ask to repeat again a few minutes later)
  • Repeat the days of the week backward

If the individual appears confused and is unable to answer these questions, it could be a concussion.
End all activity and consult a physician immediately.

Read More

Improving Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms through Rehabilitation

If you live with multiple sclerosis, rehabilitation can play an essential role in helping you function at your best.

From diagnosis on, rehabilitation specialists such as physical, occupational, and speech therapists can help with symptoms of the condition. These usually include muscle control and weakness – affecting the way you walk, move or talk.
Therapies that can help improve these issues include:

  • Physical Therapy – Physical therapists can evaluate and address how your body moves and functions. Therapists can help you with walking, mobility, strength, balance, posture, pain, fatigue, and bladder issues, helping to prevent unnecessary complications.
  • Occupational Therapy – Occupational therapists can help you with everyday activities to increase your independence, productivity, and safety. They can help you modify tasks, use adaptive equipment, and recommend strategies in the home and work place.
  • Speech Therapy – Speech-language pathologists can evaluate and treat any issues you may be having with speaking or swallowing. Some may also help with cognitive issues, which can affect your ability to think, reason, concentrate or remember.
Read More

10 Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Michael J. Fox was a 29-year-old actor who woke up one morning and noticed his little finger shaking. What he thought was a side effect of a hangover actually was an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that has no known cause. Nearly a million people in the United States live with the disease.

Some symptoms of the disease are easy to see, while others are hard even for a trained healthcare professional to detect.
The National Parkinson Foundation offers these 10 early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease:

  1. Tremor or shaking of a body part
  2. Small handwriting – your handwriting changes to become smaller
  3. Loss of smell
  4. Trouble sleeping
  5. Trouble moving or walking
  6. Constipation
  7. Soft or low voice – your voice changes to be softer
  8. Masked or serious look on your face even when you’re not in a bad mood
  9. Dizziness or fainting
  10. Stooping or hunching over

No one symptom necessarily means that you have the disease; the symptom may be caused by another condition. However, if you feel you are experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to visit your physician.

Read More

Rehabilitative Care – It’s Not All the Same

When looking for rehabilitative care, you may have heard of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, assisted living centers, skilled nursing facilities, and nursing homes. While these may seem like equal choices for care, they’re not.

Each of the facilities mentioned above has rehabilitation professionals on staff, but only one – the rehabilitation hospital – specializes in rehabilitation, offering 24-hour rehabilitative nursing care, along with daily physician management and intensive rehabilitation therapies.

So, why is this important?

Simply put, when it comes to your health, you want the best option provided.

A national study commissioned by the ARA Research Institute shows that patients treated in inpatient rehabilitation hospitals have better long-term results than those treated in skilled nursing facilities.
The study shows that patients:

  • Live longer
  • Have less hospital and ER visits
  • Remain longer in their homes without additional outpatient services

In addition, patients in the study:

  • Returned home from their initial stay two weeks earlier
  • Remained home two weeks longer

So the bottom line is, as a patient, you get to choose where you want to go. Don’t ever hesitate to research, observe and ask questions about a facility to be sure you receive the level of rehabilitative care that you want and need.

Read More

Lower Your Stroke Risks this Summer

Summer is a great time for a lot of things – barbecues, outdoor activities, vacations…but what you may not think about when it comes to summer is using all it has to offer to lower your stroke risks.

Strokes – or brain attacks – are the leading cause of adult disabilities in the United States, and can happen to anyone at any time. According to the National Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 people experience strokes every year.

One of the biggest myths regarding strokes is that they can’t be avoided. But in reality, nearly 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented by controlling lifestyle risk factors, or habits that we engage in that can be changed to improve our health.

Summer provides easy-to-find opportunities to lower stroke risks, such as:

  • Buy and eat fresh produce. Visit your local farmer’s market or grocery store to find in-season, fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat them in their natural states.
  • Eat less salt. Eat fresh vegetables versus canned items, and your salt intake will decrease.
  • Visit the beach. Eat more seafood (at the beach or not) instead of red meat.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Get active outside during the warmer and longer days.
  • Put the cigarettes down. Summer usually is less stressful. Use it to your advantage to try to break the habit.
  • Shoot for your healthy weight. Healthy eating and activities may help you reach a healthy weight (if you’re not already at it).
Read More

After a Stroke — Finding the Right Words

It’s common to struggle at times to find the right word during a conversation. But for an individual who has had a stroke, finding the right word may be much more difficult.

Aphasia can be a side effect of a stroke, which can affect a person’s ability to communicate by impairing the ability to speak, read, listen or write. When a person with aphasia has word-finding difficulty, it’s called anomia.

Anomia makes it difficult to find the words or ideas that a person wants to share. Sometimes the word may come, and sometimes it won’t.

When this happens in a conversation, the person who is speaking to the stroke survivor may want to jump in quickly to supply the word. But in reality, that can be more of a hindrance than a help. It would be more beneficial to help the person find the word they are looking for rather than supplying it.

So, how can you best communicate with someone under these circumstances? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Allow plenty of time for a response. Talk with the individual, not for him or her.
  • Ask “yes” or “no” questions that can be answered simply and without a lot of explanation.
  • Use photographs or pictures to help provide cues.
  • Write your cues – such as a letter or a drawing – on a piece of paper to share.
  • Confirm and repeat back what the person has said. Use paraphrases or key words to be sure that you’re understanding properly.
  • Use gestures as you ask questions.
Read More

Act FAST and Save a Life

FAST is an easy way to identify the most common symptoms of stroke:

F – Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Note if one side of the face is drooping.
A – Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms to the side. See if one drifts downward.
S – Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Listen if the speech is slurred or strange.
T – Time to call 911. If you observe any of these signs, call for help immediately.

Take note of the time of the first symptom so you can tell medical personnel because this can affect treatment decisions. Rapid access to medical treatment can make a difference between full recovery and permanent disability.

Other symptoms of a stroke also may include sudden onset of:

  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding what someone is saying
  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Even if you’re unsure if someone is having a stroke, don’t delay in calling 911 to get the person medical help immediately.

Read More

Don’t Have a Stroke

Dick Clark. Sharon Stone. Rick James.

When you think of these celebrities, you probably think of their talents. What you probably don’t realize is that each suffered a stroke.

Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.

According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided.

Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke. Many of these lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and may actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.

That’s good news, right? So, how do we lessen our chances of having a stroke?

We can start by controlling these lifestyle risk factors:
• High blood pressure
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Poor diet
• High blood cholesterol
• Physical inactivity
• Obesity
• Heart diseases
• Alcohol consumption

If you think you can improve any of these lifestyle risk factors, do it.
The changes you make now may affect what happens – or better yet, what doesn’t happen – later.

Read More

Stroke Awareness Fair 2017

Come join Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital for this FREE event to learn more about strokes and how they can affect you or a loved one.

Saturday, May 13, 2017
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

All-day Events include:
Stroke risk assessments, including blood pressure and blood sugar testing
Dietary education
Pharmacy consultations
Simulated stroke experiences and treatments, including the latest ZeroG technology
Balance testing and cognition screenings (appointments strongly recommended)
Information from community resources

Scheduled activities include:

• 10 a.m. – Educational class: Keeping Calm in a Sea of Crisis by Leigh Downing, Certified Master Chaplain

11:30 a.m. – Lunch & Learn: Stroke Signs, Symptoms & Prevention by Erin Aafedt, Speech Language Pathologist (lunch provided, reservation required)

1 p.m. – Educational class: Rebuilding Your Brain After a Stroke by Chris Knack, Certified Geriatric Care Manager for Home Care Assistance

And more!

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A LUNCH RESERVATION OR SCREENING APPOINTMENT, CALL KAREN RUSSELL AT 602-540-5310 OR EMAIL KAREN RUSSELL.

Read More

Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital Provides Nationally Recognized Care to Community for 10th Year in Row

For the 10th year in a row, Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital (MVRRH) has been acknowledged for providing nationally recognized rehabilitative care to its patients. The hospital was ranked in the Top 10% of inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide for providing care that is patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

“This means that in the northern Arizona area, we’re providing the highest level of rehabilitative care available anywhere in the United States right now,” says Judy Baum, CEO of MVRRH. “Patients and their families don’t have to leave the area to receive the latest in technology and clinical protocols – we’re providing it here in our own backyard.”

The hospital was ranked from among 781 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR). The UDSMR is a non-profit corporation that was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database for medical rehabilitation outcomes.

“This national ranking speaks highly of the commitment and dedication of our employees and medical staff,” Baum says. “Our staff is passionate about helping patients return home at their highest possible levels of productivity and independence. And for anyone who has ever as had a family member or friend needing healthcare, that matters. We consider it a privilege to be able to provide this higher standard of care to our community.”

MVRRH provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. This includes strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations, along with illnesses such as cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Read More

Prescott resident finds road to recovery after stroke through local hospital

Sixty-nine-year-old Tom Liaboe of Prescott was watching television this past winter when he stood up and unexpectedly fell. His wife, Carol, heard the noise and ran upstairs to find Tom on the floor. He was barely able to move his right side, part of his face was drooping, and he was having trouble speaking.

Tom had suffered a stroke. He had become one of the nearly 2,000 individuals in Northern Arizona who are admitted annually to area hospitals for strokes. Strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the nation, reducing mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.

Tom, a retired network engineer, had always been an active individual. He enjoyed gardening, yard work and working on home projects – one of which was building gazebos. He and his wife had moved to Prescott eight months before his stroke, having purchased a three-level home.

“Because I was so active, both my wife and I were really surprised when my stroke occurred,” Tom says.

After initial treatment at a local hospital, Tom was transferred to Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital provides specialized physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from disabling diseases and injuries like stroke. The hospital is nationally certified by The Joint Commission in Stroke Rehabilitation.

When Tom entered Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, he was unable to walk or speak. His right side was still extremely weak. A multidisciplinary medical team worked with Tom and Carol to develop customized goals for his recovery, which included receiving intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy treatments. Both he and Carol say they could really feel the impact from the teamwork.

“It was what I needed to recover,” Tom says. “I wanted to work as hard as I could to regain my abilities, which the staff helped me with. But, I never felt overworked or pushed beyond what I could do.”

After one month of inpatient rehabilitation, Tom began receiving care in his home through Mountain Valley Home for Health, the hospital’s home health arm. The home health team continued to work with Tom (and Carol), providing the therapies he needed to help him continue his healing. While providing treatment, the team taught Tom how to safely navigate the stairs in his house, how to get in and out of the shower, and how to walk securely in the neighborhood.

“I now can function in all three levels of my house,” Tom says. “I use the upstairs shower and bedroom. And I walk in the neighborhood for exercise. But, my favorite workouts now are water exercises in the pool. They really help me stretch my muscles.”

Carol says she considers her husband’s recovery “miraculous,” and says Tom’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Harvey Thomas, calls him his “miracle patient.”

“I’m really pleased that I have reached this level of ability again,” Tom says. “And, I credit that to everyone who helped me along the way – especially my rehabilitation team.”

Read More

Dr. Srijana Zarkou visits Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital

Dr. Srijana Zarkou, Neurologist at Flagstaff Medical Center, spent an hour with our staff discussing the causes of stroke and the processes they employ for treatment in the FMC stroke group. Dr. Zarkou is a strong advocate of the rehabilitation that MVRRH provides for the stroke patients from northern Arizona and we all enjoyed the opportunity to learn more from her expertise.

070616A

Read More

Local hospital helps Holbrook resident heal from stroke

Fifty-year-old Robert Dawson of Holbrook, Ariz., has always been an active man. A full-time physician assistant and father to eight children, he’s used to being on the go. On any given day, he could be found working, attending his children’s events, sight-seeing, traveling or doing another activity.

But things changed this past November.

“After watching television one evening, I tried to stand up from the couch, but couldn’t,” Dawson says. “Then I began slurring my speech, and I didn’t know I was.”

Dawson had suffered a stroke.

Dawson was initially treated at a local hospital and then referred to Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Prescott Valley for continued care. “The experience was great from the start,” he says, “beginning with my transport driver, Vic. After getting me to the rehabilitation hospital, Vic came by every day for the next month to check on me.”

Upon admission, Dawson was able to do very little physically. He couldn’t use his hand, and he couldn’t walk. He had trouble speaking and swallowing. “I was helpless,” he says. “I needed people to teach me how to learn to do the most basic things; it’s very difficult and humbling. But, during my stay, the hospital staff never made me feel embarrassed or humiliated. They were always encouraging.”

Dawson was cared for by an interdisciplinary team comprised of physicians, rehabilitation nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and other medical personnel.

“As with every patient, we worked as a team with Robert and his wife to create an individualized care plan that would bring him the best results,” says Dr. Alan Berman, Medical Director of Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “By doing this, we allowed Robert to receive the specialized care he needed so he could progress at his own pace to regain his abilities.”

Robert is one of 1,300 patients treated every year at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital is recognized as being in the Top 10% of rehabilitation hospitals in the nation for patient care. And, it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for its Advanced Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation programs. It’s the only free-standing acute physical rehabilitation hospital serving central and northern Arizona, treating patients who are recovering from strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries and more.

“All our patients have access to well-equipped therapy areas to aid in their healing,” Berman says. This includes a 6,000-square-foot therapy gym, an aquatic therapy pool, and a therapeutic courtyard to allow practice on different terrains such as ramps, stairs, gravel, dirt, curbs, and wood decking.

And, patients like Robert also have access to a daily living suite and a transitional suite. These areas allow patients to practice daily at-home activities while still under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Some of these activities may include getting in and out of bed, showering, cooking, or doing laundry.

“Re-learning how to do things was difficult,” Dawson says. “The first couple of days, I was pretty dizzy and tired, but everyone was very accommodating to my limitations. And, they’d explain things to me and my wife two or three times if they needed too.”

Initially, Dawson says he was frustrated by his physical inabilities, but he was constantly reassured by staff that he was going to get better. And, he did. After two weeks, he started to walk again and his speech began to improve. Eventually, he also could eat food without having it pureed first. After about 4 weeks, he returned home. He now receives outpatient services twice a week, and is working on regaining use of his left hand.

Dawson says his primary focus now is on continued healing. He walks a little every day and has been able to attend church on Sundays.

“I have to thank everyone at the hospital from the bottom of my heart,” he says. “From the people who served me food, cleaned my room and gave me baths to the therapists, nurses and physicians – they were all like angels. They helped me heal while maintaining my dignity. I felt I could trust everyone, and coming from the medical field, I know how hard it is to do this. It’s hard to create a great team, but that’s what they have at Mountain Valley Rehabilitation Hospital.”

Read More

Congratulations to our “Of-The-Year” recipients!

At Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, we have an amazing group of passionate, patient caregivers.

We are extremely excited to announce our “Of-The-Year” recipients:
Trish Grinter: Nurse of the Year
Patty Meiner: Clinician of the Year
Cathy Flynn: Employee of the Year

 

Read More

Personal Commitments Improve Patient Care

Monica Durocher, a nurse at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, recalls many long nights studying as a nursing student at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, AZ.

When I selected nursing as my major, I knew the classwork would be intense,” she says. “But it didn’t intimidate me. I was entering a field where people’s lives literally depended on me, and that’s a sobering responsibility. I knew it was my job to learn as much as I could to help my future patients. The more I could learn, the better nurse I’d be.”

After 9 years in the profession, Durocher still feels the same way. Like many of her colleagues, Durocher values the importance of staying abreast of the latest medical developments, techniques, and treatments in her field through professional continuing education.

I have to keep up with the latest medical treatments and techniques so I can provide the best care possible to my patients,” she says. “I’m committed to lifelong learning in my field – both what’s mandatorily required, and what I can add to it voluntarily.

In addition to the continuing education Durocher participates in to maintain her state nursing license, she also has voluntarily earned – and maintains — the national Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) credential. Nurses who achieve this credential demonstrate knowledge, experience, and commitment to excellence in providing comprehensive care to people with physical disabilities or chronic illnesses.

To earn the CRRN designation, Durocher met clinical practice requirements in rehabilitation nursing and passed an exam that confirmed her extensive knowledge in the field. The exam covered the scope of rehabilitation nursing practice including models and theories; functional health patterns such as theories, physiology, assessment, standards of care, and interventions in individuals with injury, chronic illness, and disability across the lifespan; function of the rehabilitation team; community re-entry; and legislative, economic, ethical and legal issues.

Deciding to pursue this certification was an easy decision,” Durocher says. “I’m committed to providing the best care I can to my patients who may have disabilities or chronic illnesses. I want to provide them with optimal opportunities so they can function to the best of their abilities. I think I do this by continually expanding my knowledge in rehabilitative care.

Along with CRRNs, some of the staff at MVRRH also is Neuro-IFRAH certified. This means that they have specialized knowledge to treat and manage adults who have suffered brain injuries or strokes. Others are certified hand therapists who focus on the rehabilitation treatment of the hand and upper limbs, which can include tendon, peripheral nerve, crush or repetitive motion injuries.

 

Read More

Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital awarded the advanced Brain Injury Certification

Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital recently received The Joint Commission’s disease-specific certification for Brain Injury rehabilitation, which signifies the hospital’s dedication to developing better results for brain injured patients. The award was given after a rigorous on-site review by an expert evaluator.

This certification recognizes how committed we are to being the best at what we do in providing rehabilitation services to individuals who have experienced a brain injury,” says Judy Baum, Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation.We are passionate about continuously improving what we do and how we do it to so that our patients can regain their quality of life and return to our community. For many, it’s their only chance at returning back to family, friends and daily routines.

In the United States, brain injuries are a grim public health threat. Every year, there are 1.7 million people who suffer from brain injuries. The most common cause of brain injury is falls, which tend to happen more with children under the age of 14 or with adults older than 65 years of age. Motor vehicle accidents are the second-leading cause of brain injury. Dr. Alan Berman, Medical Director for Mountain Valley, states, “Great strides are being made in ways to prevent strokes and brain trauma. We must be equally aggressive in finding the best treatments for people who have experienced these injuries. Certification is the first step in developing the expertise that is necessary to maximize our efforts.

Certification through the Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Program is voluntary and available only to Brain Injury programs in Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals. Certification requirements address three core areas:

  • Compliance with national standards.
  • Effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to optimize care.
  • Organized approach to measuring performance in patient safety, patient satisfaction and patient outcomes; and then consistently improving that performance.

A brain injury often is a life changing event for the brain-injured survivor and his or her family,” Baum says. “It is our privilege to serve these individuals and our obligation to achieve these high standards. This is what we are all about at Mountain Valley!

 

Read More

Weekend Training Course for Therapists

Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital recently hosted a training course for our therapists in Post-Acute Care Management and Rehabilitation of Persons with Spinal Cord Injury. Our team spent an intense weekend improving their knowledge and skills in helping our patients recover from spinal cord injuries. Sunday at the end of the formal program, we all sat down with two former patients with spinal cord injuries for a round table discussion of their experience and how it can be applied to future patients.

 

Read More