GUTHRIE, Okla. – When caregivers provided options for skilled care services after Bill Wheeler’s knee replacement surgery and three-night hospital stay in Oklahoma City in October, he didn’t hesitate to choose Mercy Hospital Logan County.
“I spent a week at the hospital in Guthrie in 2004 and I had a good experience that time, so I was happy to go back to the hospital,” said Wheeler, 68, of Guthrie.
Wheeler has been retired for about five years as a district court judge in Guthrie and spends most of his time onboard his motor home traveling the country with his wife. During his 11-day stay at Mercy Hospital Logan County, his wife lived in the motor home just two miles from the hospital, and he was close to his son, daughter-in-law and their children who live in Guthrie.
“It was very convenient,” said Wheeler. After the surgery, “I wasn’t able to get into the motor home, so I had to go to some place for recovery and I really had no place to go other than a medical facility. It was very important to come back to Guthrie as opposed to being stuck in Oklahoma City or Edmond so there wasn’t as much driving involved for my family.”
For Wheeler, the skilled care services allowed him to leave the inpatient unit at the hospital in Oklahoma City and receive the medical care he needed to heal before going home. He said his treatment plan focused primarily on physical therapy so he could gain strength and range of motion in his knee. He worked with physical therapists twice a day during his stay and three days a week for four weeks at the hospital through the outpatient physical therapy program.
About Skilled Care
The skilled care program provides additional care or pain management for a patient, like Wheeler, after a hospital discharge. The program provides a step-down service — or transitional care — after a patient stays at the hospital for three or more days but before returning home.
Through the program, Mercy’s hospital team delivers a variety of services focused on the patient’s recovery so he or she can quickly return home. The average length of stay in the skilled care program ranges from about 10 to 14 days, but can vary based on the patient’s needs.
Skilled care services include physical, occupational and speech therapies; cardiac monitoring; intravenous (IV) medication administration; daily injections; feeding tube adjustments; respiratory treatments; complex wound care; nutritional counseling; 24-hour nursing care (if medically necessary); and patient and family education for new conditions, such as diabetes or colostomy care.
In addition to the medical services provided, an activities coordinator will also meet with patients to play games, work on puzzles, listen to music, take them on wheelchair rides or simply talk to them. This helps reduce stress and pass the time during their recovery.
“Our skilled care program really focuses on developing achievable goals for patients so they can get physically stronger and go home when they achieve those goals,” said Erin Scammahorn, manager of physical medicine at Mercy Hospital Logan County. “What is so helpful about the program is that patients have access to all the services and medical providers they need under one roof so they can concentrate on healing.”
How to Get Started
Patients must meet certain Medicare or insurance plan requirements to qualify for skilled care at Mercy. Medicaid does not cover skilled care services. A referral by a provider or a case manager is required.
If you or someone you know is considering skilled care after a hospital stay, ask your provider or case manager about Mercy’s skilled care program requirements and whether there is a location close to your home or to a loved one. In Oklahoma, Mercy offers skilled care services in Guthrie, Healdton, Kingfisher, Tishomingo and Watonga.
Wheeler will have knee replacement surgery on his left knee in March and plans to go to the skilled care unit at Mercy Hospital Logan County again.
“I don’t know if the public is aware that they provide these services,” he said. “I think people would find it a good experience to utilize the hospital if they have a need like that. If you are having surgery and you are going to have some physical therapy, and you are eligible to use the hospital, I think it is a really good alternative.”
To learn more about Mercy’s skilled care program, contact Jan Ruhl, case manager at Mercy Hospital Logan County, at 405-260-4257.
Mercy is the fifth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves millions annually. Mercy includes 34 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, three rehab hospitals and two orthopedic hospitals, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.