All posts by Jason Glogau

Deb’s Heart Attack Story: From Director of Therapy to Therapy Patient

Unfortunately for Deb Campbell, suffering a life-threatening heart attack on April 2nd was not an April Fool’s joke.

Deb is the Director of Therapy Operations for Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital and Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital in Northern Colorado. An occupational therapist, herself, Deb never thought she would

Deb Campbell is the Director of Therapy Operations at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital & Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital

be a heart attack survivor just a few days before her 47th birthday.

Deb’s father suffered a heart attack, which led to her interest in heart health and education. “I’ve always known that women often have abnormal symptoms when having a heart attack,” Deb noted. “I have educated many patients on eating a healthy diet and exercise. When it came time to recognize my own symptoms, I did not trust my gut feeling.”

Deb had been experiencing symptoms of being extremely tired, feeling her heart flutter, and burning chest pain on-and-off for months. She “kept talking myself out of it,” thinking it was heartburn, stress or a virus.

While on a boat in Costa Rica, Deb could no longer ignore the symptoms. She thought she was getting sea sick and laid down. Next thing she knew, Deb woke up to a stranger screaming for her to open her eyes.

Deb’s heart had stopped beating, and she was unconscious.

Eventually aroused, Deb was taken to a local hospital. Doctors found the primary artery sending blood to her heart was 96% blocked. The medical staff treated the blockage and she left for home 10 days later.

Upon returning home, Deb started a 12-week-long intensive cardiac rehab program. She admitted to “feeling embarrassed,” recalling she was the youngest one there. “However, I knew I could trust the therapists to get me back to my life.”

Deb knows this experience has affected the way she cares for patients. “I have more empathy and relate to what they are feeling at a visceral level,” she said. “I understand being scared and nervous. I understand the discomfort of moving from one hospital to another. I can appreciate the behaviors of families and patients – appreciate that they are coming from a place of fear and concern.”

Deb tells anyone with symptoms of a heart attack–but especially women–to “trust your instincts. If you are trying to talk yourself out of thinking you’re having a heart attack, you should seek medical attention immediately.”

Deb knows she is lucky to have survived. She has a holiday celebration on the anniversary of her heart attack. “I celebrate life,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I trusted the therapists and doctors, so I wasn’t afraid. I learned to take advantage of my life now – you never know when it may end.”

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Your Data Privacy Rights as a Patient

The Health Insurance and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) has been providing federal protections for your medical information since 1996. Under HIPAA, you are the driver of how your healthcare provider uses your medical information. It is thus important that you know your medical privacy rights and your healthcare provider’s responsibilities when it comes to your medical information.

As a patient, you have the right, among others, to:

  • Decide if you want your care provider to talk about your medical information in front of your family or friends, or if you would like to talk in private
  • Decide if you want your family or friends to see your medical record or if you want us to keep it private
  • Request access to, or a copy of, your medical record, or authorize that we provide a copy of your medical record to another person or company
  • Request that we amend your medical record if you believe it is wrong or request that we place a written correction in your medical record if we cannot amend your medical record
  • Tell us how you want to be contacted or request that we restrict the way that we contact you
  • File a complaint with the facility or provider that treated you or with the Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights

Ernest uses your medical information, as allowed by HIPAA, in a number of ways that assist us, and others, in providing care for you. Some of the ways that HIPAA allows us to use your medical information when providing care are:

  • For your treatment and care coordination
  • To pay doctors and hospitals for your health care
  • With your family, relatives, friends, or others you identify who are involved with your health care or your health care bills, unless you tell us not to
  • To make sure doctors give good care and nursing homes are clean and safe
  • To protect the public’s health, such as by reporting when the flu is in your area
  • To make required reports to the police, such as reporting gunshot wounds

There are certain times when HIPAA requires that we ask you before we share your medical information. Some of the times we are required to ask for your permission before sharing your medical information include:

  • Before we share your medical information with your employer
  • Before we use or share your medical information for certain research purposes
  • Before we use or share your medical information for marketing or advertising purposes

In order to ensure that your medical privacy is protected according to your wishes, it is important to know your privacy rights as a patient and to inform your healthcare providers of how you want your medical information used or shared. It is also important that you review your medical records periodically to ensure that they are complete and accurate. Should you identify what you believe to be an error in your medical record, you should contact the healthcare provider that authored the medical information to find out how to request amendment to your medical information.

Knowing your medical privacy rights puts the power in your hands to control who can see and hear your medical information, as well as how your healthcare providers can use and share your medical information!

*For more information on how Ernest uses and shares patient medical information please request a copy of your Ernest facility’s Notice of Privacy Practices.

Angelique Culver, Esq. has been an Attorney for 15 years, specializing in Healthcare Compliance and the privacy and security of patient information for last 9 years.  She is the Chief Compliance and HIPAA Officer for Vibra Healthcare.  She has long been an advocate for patients’ rights, serving as a member of the bio-ethics committee of an urban academic medical center and the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Health Information Exchange Legal/Ethical Workgroup.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors for WITF, Inc., a Central Pennsylvania public broadcasting company committed to increasing cultural access and knowledge, extending public education, and strengthening community life through all channels and platforms, including broadcasting, online, social media, print, and in person events.

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Why Donate Blood?

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. And while many donate blood frequently, there hasn’t been enough supply to meet demand.

But why should you donate blood, if you are able?

You can save a life

Donating blood is an easy, selfless way to help others. People with all kinds of health issues need blood for a variety of reasons. Some examples include:

  • Cancer patients who cannot produce platelets due to treatment
  • Trauma patients suffering blood loss
  • Patients undergoing heart surgery and organ transplants
  • Sickle cell patients, who require frequent transfusions
  • Burn patients, needing plasma to help maintain blood pressure
  • Patients with chronic diseases

There’s an urgent need for blood donors

Unfortunately, there has been a consistent shortage of blood donations across the nation. At the time this blog was written, the American Red Cross has issued an emergency need for blood donors. A blood shortage can lead to delays in providing medical care to patients, which in many cases is lifesaving. There is a particular need for Type O blood, which is often in high demand.

You may have a rare blood type

There are eight common blood types, but many more rare blood types. For a safe transfusion, there are very specific ways in which blood types much be matched. For example, someone with Type O blood can donate to all other blood types. However, they can only receive Type O blood.

To donate blood, you can find a Blood Drive near you on the American Red Cross website. Additionally, many of our hospitals host blood drives regularly, and usually announce them on Facebook.

If you haven’t donated blood before, check out these common concerns for first-time donors.

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3 Brain Safety Tips for Winter Sports

The winter months bring many wonderful things. The start of a new year. A beautiful, fresh fallen snow. Fun on the slopes.

But the winter also brings something of great concern: a spike in traumatic brain injuries.

Despite the drop in temperature, many still enjoy the outdoors during winter by participating in sports like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding and ice hockey. But winter sports pose a legitimate danger to your brain if you do not take proper care to protect yourself.

To fully enjoy these winter activities, it is important to understand and respect the risks that winter sports pose, including concussions. Know these winter sports safety tips to enjoy all winter has to offer.

Wear a Helmet

Protecting your brain starts with wearing a helmet. Be sure to choose a helmet that fits properly, and is designed for the sport you’ll be participating in. Regularly check your helmet for damage, including dings and scratches that may limit its effectiveness.

Know Your Surroundings and Limitations

When planning a trip to the slopes, look at the weather forecast. Try to plan for optimal conditions to reduce the risk of injury. Know how the trail is laid out, and where the boundaries are. Stay near the center to avoid obstacles, and try to avoid crowded areas. Headphones are a big no-no, as they won’t allow you to hear what’s happening around you. Don’t opt for an advanced trail or equipment if you’re a beginner. Before getting started, know where medical help is available. The same goes for skating rinks and sledding trails.

Know the Signs of Concussion

The signs and symptoms of a concussion may appear immediately after a hard fall, or not for days or even weeks afterward. And it doesn’t always require a direct hit to the head for a concussion to occur. Symptoms of a possible concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Balance/coordination issues
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention within 24 hours. Sometimes, a person loses consciousness after suffering a concussion. In that event, call 911 or seek emergency medical help, immediately.

 

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7 Myths About Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals

Long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) are designed to help patients advance their recovery when traditional hospitals may not have the time or resources to help them. But, when it comes to long-term acute care, there are many misconceptions. From the services provided to admissions requirements and insurance coverage, we’ve taken some of the most common myths about long-term acute care hospitals and clarified them below.

Myth #1: Long-term acute care hospitals are nursing homes

Fact: Long-term acute care hospitals provide a much higher level of care than nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). An LTACH is similar to an intensive care unit (ICU). Because LTACHs are hospitals, they have 24-hour physician coverage along with many specialized services on-site, including:

  • Full nursing staff
  • Physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy
  • Dietary
  • Pharmacy
  • Laboratory
  • Radiology

Long-term acute care hospitals are uniquely designed to provide care for patients with complex medical needs.

Myth #2: Patients admitted to an LTACH are required to stay 25 days

Fact: The amount of time a patient stays in an LTACH is dependent upon their illness or injury, complications and goals. Every patient is different because every human is different. In an LTACH, physicians collaborate with patients and their loved ones to create an individualized plan of care to achieve those unique goals.

Myth #3: LTACHs are where people go to get hospice care

Fact: Most patients do not receive hospice care while staying in an LTACH. Long-term acute care hospitals focus on getting patients back to their life in their community. Patients and their families choose LTACHs because they offer aggressive treatment for the disease or injury.

Myth #4: Patients don’t get physical therapy or occupational therapy at an LTACH

Fact: While most patients in an LTACH are quite ill, early mobility is essential to a patient’s long-term outcome. LTACHs have therapists on staff who provide services specific to this level of care. Patients in an LTACH may begin receiving physical and/or occupational therapy even while on a ventilator. The physical and occupational therapists will create a therapy regimen appropriate for each patient.

Myth #5: LTACHs can’t accept ICU-level patients or patients on an IV drip

Fact: Much like an intensive care unit, LTACHs focus on critical care of patients. Nurses and staff are specially trained to care for patients who are critically ill or have a complicated medical history.

Myth #6: A patient must spend at least three nights in an ICU before admitting to an LTACH

Fact: There are no stay requirements for LTACH patients. Patients can admit from a doctor’s office or even their home, if needed.

Myth #7: Insurance won’t pay for an LTACH

Fact: Most LTACHs have contracts with numerous insurance companies. LTACHs work directly with insurance providers to ensure coverage prior to a patient’s admission.

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What is LSVT BIG?

LSVT BIG is a research-based exercise program developed from the principles of the LSVT LOUD program. The LSVT BIG program has been developed specifically for patients with Parkinson’s Disease. With over 20 years of research, the program has shown documented improvements of faster walking and bigger steps, improved balance, and increased trunk rotation.

How does the LSVT BIG program work?

The LSVT BIG program drives high-intensity and high-effort practice in order to teach the amount of effort required to produce normal movements. The exercises translate into bigger movements in everyday activities.

How long does the LSVT BIG program last?

The LSVT BIG program consists of 16 sessions. Patients attend four sessions per week for four weeks. Each session lasts 1 hour. Patients are also expected to do daily homework.

When is the LSVT BIG program appropriate?

Patients with Parkinson’s Disease can participate in the LSVT BIG program at any time during their disease process. However, research suggests that the earlier a patient gets into the program, the more beneficial it can be. The exercise program can be modified to accommodate patients at different levels of mobility.

What type of exercises will I be doing?

The LSVT BIG program consists of seven maximal daily exercises, five functional tasks, and one-to-three hierarchy tasks. The maximal daily exercises are standard exercises that all patients perform. There are two seated and five standing exercises. These exercises focus on sustained posture, trunk rotation, balance, and stepping. The five functional tasks are made custom to the patient’s needs. These are one step tasks, such as sit-to-stand, turning, backwards stepping, etc. The hierarchy tasks are also custom to the patient’s needs. These are more complex tasks, such as getting on-and-off the floor, getting in-and-out of bed, getting in-and-out of the car, etc.

How will the LSVT BIG program be customized to fit my needs?

The LSVT BIG program is custom made for each patient, dependent on the patient’s needs and goals. During the evaluation, the therapist will perform numerous standardized tests to determine the patient’s limitations. The therapist will also discuss in detail with the patient the challenges they are having and their specific goals. The program is then tailored to fit the patient’s deficits and goals through different functional and hierarchy tasks. The standard maximal daily exercises can be modified to be made easier or more difficult, based upon the patient’s level of function.

How do I get started with LSVT BIG?

To get started with the LSVT BIG program, you first need a prescription for the program from your doctor. This may come from your primary care physician or your neurologist. Then contact a facility that has LSVT BIG trained therapists. You can search for an LSVT Certified Clinician near you on the LSVT Global website.

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Danielle Albin, PT, DPT, CSRS, LSVT BIG, is a physical therapist in the outpatient department at Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital. She has been a physical therapist for over 5 years with experience in inpatient rehab, outpatient, and skilled nursing facilities. She graduated from University of Kentucky with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2013. Danielle is certified in LSVT BIG and also has her stroke certification (CSRS). Danielle is passionate about improving the way in which patients with Parkinson’s Disease move and perform their daily activities.

 

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What is LSVT LOUD?

LSVT stands for “Lee Silverman Voice Treatment.” The LSVT LOUD program was designed for Lee Silverman, a woman with Parkinson’s disease who was dealing with voice impairment. The goal of the program is to increase vocal loudness to a healthy, normal loudness so the patient can improve communication with others. The exercises in the program target loudness, but also improve pitch, breath support, and dysarthria.

LSVT LOUD was created for Parkinson’s Disease, but can be useful for other neurological disorders (i.e. Multiple Sclerosis) on a case-by-case basis. Over 25 years of research and randomized control trials through the National Institute of Health (NIH) have shown improvements in loudness, vocal quality, articulation, breath support, and increased intelligibility. Additionally, the principles of LSVT LOUD have been used to develop the LSVT BIG program,which has shown documented improvements of faster walking and bigger steps, improved balance, and increased trunk rotation..

How does the program work?

LSVT LOUD consists of high frequency, high intensity, and high effort practice. The goal is to achieve normal, healthy vocal loudness in everyday life. The exercises address bowing of vocal chords, the ability to physically get loud, and to retrain the patient to use a loud voice.

How long does the program last?

The program is four weeks long and the patient comes to therapy four consecutive days per week. Each session lasts 60 minutes. Outside of therapy, the patient also performs home exercises. Patients do home exercises twice per day on non-therapy days and once per day on therapy days.

When is the LSVT LOUD program appropriate?

LSVT LOUD can be completed at anytime during the disease process. But, studies show the sooner LSVT LOUD is completed, the more beneficial and effective the treatment. Research shows the increased vocal loudness after completion of LSVT LOUD can last for 2+ years if daily practice is continued post-treatment.

What type of exercises will I be doing?

Using their “LOUD” voice, patients perform a series of sustaining the sound “AH” at different pitches. The patient also practices a series of functional phrases that he or she selects. The patient selects phrases that they say on a daily basis and that are meaningful to them. The aim is that the patient can generalize the practiced loudness to everyday speech. Other hierarchical verbal expression tasks are completed to practice using the LOUD voice in different settings. These tasks start at the word level and advance to the conversation level by the end of the program.

Why is LSVT LOUD better than regular voice therapy?

LSVT LOUD was specifically created for Parkinson’s Disease. The program gives repetitive, intensive practice with an increased number of sessions. The goal is for the patient to have a greater increase in vocal loudness and longer lasting results than with typical speech/voice therapy. General voice therapy may only be two to three times per week, for 30-45 minutes. Additionally, it does not typically have the intense and repetitive practice LSVT LOUD does.

How do I get started?

To get started with the LSVT LOUD program, you first need a prescription for the program from your doctor. This may come from your primary care physician or your neurologist. Then contact a facility that has LSVT LOUD trained therapists. You can search for an LSVT Certified Clinician near you on the LSVT Global website.

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Elizabeth Uchtman, M.S., CCC-SLP, is the lead speech pathologist and primary outpatient speech pathologist at Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital. Elizabeth has been a speech pathologist for over two years, with experience in skilled nursing facilities, acute care settings, and inpatient rehabilitation settings. She graduated from Miami University with a Master of Science degree in speech pathology in 2016. Elizabeth is certified in LSVT LOUD and has a passion for working with adults with diagnoses of voice disorders, aphasia and dysphagia. She holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in Speech-Language Pathology, Ohio state licensure, and Kentucky state licensure.

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How to Properly Wash Your Hands

Washing our hands frequently and thoroughly is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of germs and infection. This is especially important during flu season. But, are you washing your hands properly?

Chances are, the answer is no.

The CDC recommends a five-step process to properly wash your hands. Those steps are:

  1. Wet your hands, then apply soap.
    Tip: Turn off the faucet while applying soap to save water!
  2. Lather your whole hands, including the backs, between your fingers and under your nails.
    Tip: Lather up your arms, as well, to remove extra bacteria
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    Tip: Hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice to get your timing right
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
    Tip: Use a clean towel to turn off the faucet
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air drier.
    Tip: If you have to open a door to exit the sink area, use a clean towel to avoid exposing yourself to new germs
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