News/Blog

Take Part in Your Healthcare

It’s normal to have questions and anxieties when facing any kind of health issue, whether it’s an illness, injury, surgery, recovery, etc. Every patient wants to receive the best care possible, but did you know that patients play a big role in the care that they receive? Inherent in any medical care is relationships — relationships between the patient and practitioners (physicians, therapists, nurses, etc.). When patients come prepared with the best knowledge of their symptoms, medical history, and current circumstances, the practitioners have a better understanding of their patients and can offer the best treatment plan.

So what does it mean to “come prepared”?

PARTICIPATING IN YOUR HEALTHCARE: 1. MAKE A LIST

Time with practitioners is often limited, so by making a list of things you’d like to address you will make the most of that limited time. What symptom(s) is worrying you the most? Try to pinpoint when it started and anything that makes it better or worse. Avoid waiting until the practitioner is leaving the room to bring up another symptom or concern. Undivided attention is important in patient/practitioner communication.

PARTICIPATING IN YOUR HEALTHCARE: 2. COMMUNICATE YOUR CONCERNS AND DESIRES

Patients will often hesitate to discuss financial or family concerns to practitioners. Health issues can be scary and it’s not easy to talk about them, even with your own doctors. Practitioners understand that medical problems and treatment are both financially and emotionally taxing. Don’t be afraid to communicate those concerns! Are you worried about how you will pay for your healthcare and prescriptions? There may be programs to help you. If your practitioner doesn’t immediately know the answer he/she will direct you to a staff member who can help. Does your family need help coping with the stress of your illness or recovery? Support groups and/or counseling can do that. Let your practitioners know you need it!

PARTICIPATING IN YOUR HEALTHCARE: 3. ASK QUESTIONS

Don’t hesitate to ask, “What does that mean?” if a physician says something that goes over your head. If you don’t ask, the practitioner will assume you understand all that is being said. Ask about surgery risks, expected outcomes, prescribed medications and therapies. Tell your physician, therapist, nurse, etc. what you hear them saying. Make sure you’re all on the same page before anyone leaves the room. You might even think of questions in the middle of the grocery store or while watching TV — write them down and ask them at your next appointment.

Remember, you are an active participant in your own healthcare. You are an expert on your body, your circumstances, your life. Your doctors are experts at what they do but they need your expertise on YOU in order to provide the best healthcare.

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Winter Care Tips for Seniors

The winter season presents specific risks and challenges that can be exaggerated for older adults. We value the safety of our patients while they are with us and certainly once they go home. Because of this we believe that it’s important to be prepared for the risks that winter weather can bring. Here are seven safety tips to help mitigate those risks.
  1. Keep warm. Older adults are at a greater risk of developing hypothermia — a dangerous drop in body temperature — during cold weather. Aging lowers one’s ability to withstand longer periods of cold, even from just sitting in a colder than normal room. Certain conditions and medications can also affect a person’s ability to sense cold, making them especially vulnerable. Because of this, older people should keep indoor temps above 65 degrees and look for the warning signs of hypothermia – shivering, cold and pale or ashy skin, abnormal fatigue, sudden confusion, and/or slowed breathing and heart rate. If you notice these symptoms call 911 immediately.
  2. Avoid falls. While falls are a constant concern regardless of weather, seniors need to be especially vigilant in avoiding falls during the winter. Ice, snow, and mobility impeded by cold temperatures can wreak havoc on a normally safe environment. Given the particularly dangerous nature of falls in older adults, it is crucial for individuals and their loved ones to keep steps and walks clear of snow, ice, and other potential fall hazards. Be especially cautious when using canes, walkers, crutches, etc. on snow and ice.
  3. Watch for wintertime depression. It’s not uncommon for older adults to alter their social engagements during the winter months because of the cold and inclement weather. While this seems like a good idea in terms of limiting exposure to winter illnesses and avoiding fall risks, it can actually have a negative impact on one’s mental and emotional well-being. Staying active and finding alternative social outlets is a big factor in avoiding wintertime depression. If you have older family members who are at risk of becoming isolated, make an effort to visit, call, or arrange activities to keep their spirits high.
  4. Eat a varied diet. When it’s cold outside we’re less likely to get the sun exposure that we need for our bodies to produce Vitamin D, and we tend to eat a less varied diet. Eating foods with Vitamin D, like milk, grains, and certain seafood can help with this deficit. You might even talk with your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
  5. Prepare for emergencies. Winter storms can cause a variety of problems including long-lasting power outages and snowed- or iced-in conditions. It is essential to be prepared for such events before they occur. The CDC website has a wealth of information on preparing for extreme cold conditions. They have created a printable document – Extreme Cold Guide – that includes information for what to do before, during, and after a winter storm. Tips include storm preparation, safety checklists, and health information. This guide is a valuable clearinghouse for anyone preparing for winter weather. [1]
  6. Drive safely. While safe driving practices are always paramount, hazards can be exaggerated during inclement weather. It is important to know one’s limits when it comes to operating a vehicle. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in ice and snow, ask a friend or family member for a ride. Another concern on the road is emergency preparedness. Make sure you have supplies in your car to keep you safe in case of a stranding or accident. Warm blankets and clothes, food, a flashlight, and an ice scraper should be standard equipment in the car. Always travel with a cell phone and charger in case you have an emergency. Another way to avoid problems is to have your car winterized by a trusted professional.
  7. Maintain safe heating. It is vitally important to keep heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, etc. in good working order and free of clutter to avoid fires and carbon monoxide leaks. Beyond having these devices checked by a professional, you should have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure the detectors are properly installed on every floor and are in good working condition. Each bedroom and sleeping area should have its own smoke detector. [2]
By following these basic safety tips you and your loved ones can reduce the risk of serious problems this winter. Stay warm and be safe!
Resources:
  1. http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp
  2. http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/fire-and-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms
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Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital Awarded Advanced Stroke Certification

Award signifies hospital’s dedication to better results for stroke patients

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital recently was recognized with Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers, which signifies the hospital’s dedication to developing better results for stroke patients. The award was given by The Joint Commission, in conjunction with The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association after a rigorous on-site review in December by an expert evaluator.

This award recognizes how committed we are and how well we provide rehabilitation following a stroke,” says Deb Campbell, Director of Therapy Operations at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital.We want to provide hope and quality of life to our community members who have experienced this debilitating event. For many, it’s their only chance at returning back to families, friends and daily routines.

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

  • Compliance with consensus-based national standards.
  • Effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care.
  • Organized approach to performance measurement and improvement activities.

Stroke continues to be highly prevalent in our community and often is a life changing event for the stroke survivor and his or her family,” Campbell says. “We feel it’s our obligation and privilege to continue to improve services to stroke survivors in Northern Colorado.

“In achieving Joint Commission advanced certification, Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for its stroke patients,” says Jean Range, executive director of The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Program. “The Joint Commission commends Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves.”

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Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital Recognized Among Top 10%

 

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital has been ranked in the top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States for the 9th consecutive year. The ranking was provided by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR), a not-for-profit corporation that was developed with support from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a component of the U.S Department of Education.

The UDSMR ranks rehabilitation facilities based upon care that is patient-centered, effective, efficient, and timely. Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital was ranked this past year out of 783 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide.

It’s an honor to be recognized as a national leader,” says Beth Bullard, CEO of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. “I believe it’s a reflection of our serious commitment to the community to continually strive to provide high quality rehabilitative care to our patients. But, what I’m most excited about is that we’re bringing nationally recognized care right here to our own community – meaning that our patients don’t have to leave the area to receive it.

Through UDSMR, we’re also able to help elevate rehabilitative care for everyone across the United States because we collaborate with peers to share information and establish best practices for patients,” Bullard continues.

UDSMR, which administers the world’s largest medical rehabilitation database, provides common language and measurement tools to monitor patient results. The data used for the most current ranking was based on 12 months of information from 2014 from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. The results were combined and weighted into a score, and each facility was then assigned a percentile rank.

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Hospital honored for life-changing care

West Nile virus survivor arranges legislative tribute for Northern Colorado Long Term Acute and Rehabilitation hospital

Some people get West Nile virus without ever knowing it. When Ken Summers contracted the disease last summer, it easily could have been the very last thing he ever knew. The Fort Collins resident, who represented the Lakewood area for six years in the Colorado House of Representatives, was diagnosed July 22, 2013, with the mosquito – borne virus.

The disease set off a life-threatening spiral into meningitis, encephalitis and a previously undiagnosed autoimmune disorder called myasthenia gravis that put Summers on life support for several weeks. Then followed an almost four-month-long stay in two specialized hospitals in Johnstown just east of Loveland, relearning how to breathe and then to walk.

Summers was so grateful for the life- recovering care that he received at the Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Care Hospital and Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital that he asked Rep. Perry Buck, who represents the district that includes the hospitals’ campus, to sponsor an official legislative tribute.

Buck presented the tribute in the rehab side of the linked hospitals, with Summers and a large group of hospital staffers looking on. She noted that for eight years, the 10-year- old rehabilitation hospital has been ranked in the top 10 percent of almost 800 rehab facilities nationwide, and the acute-care hospital recently earned the Quality Respiratory Care Recognition designation from the American Association of Respiratory Care.

Summers, who walked slowly with the aid of a walker and sat for much of his speech, recounted his harrowing ordeal and praised the hospitals’ staff, “from physicians to the housekeeping staff to maintenance.” He said he continues to visit the rehab side weekly for outpatient therapy.

Elizabeth Bullard, chief operating officer for Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, put Summers’ experience this way: “It was just over a year ago that he began a journey to the edge of life and back again.

After the formalities, the hospitals’ leaders gave Buck a tour of both sides of the 40- bed facility, accompanied by Summers in a wheelchair.

At the doorway between the acute-care and rehab sides, Summers recalled what he thought during his six tough weeks in acute care — the part of it that he remembers: “One of these days we’ll pass through those double doors.” He added with a laugh, “It’s better than passing through the pearly gates.

Summers said during his terms in theLegislature, he liked to visit the businesses and organizations in his district that were doing exceptional work, and he sometimes recognized them with official tributes. This particular tribute “had a very personal aspect,” he said, because the care he received “was vital to my recovery.

People are familiar with Craig Hospital,” the nationally known rehab center in Englewood. “This really is the Craig Hospital of Northern Colorado.

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