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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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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Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital Recognized Nationally for Respiratory Care

Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital Recognized

Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital has earned the national Quality Respiratory Care Recognition (QRCR) from the American Association of Respiratory Care. This designation is given to facilities that meet strict safety and quality standards related to the provision of respiratory care services by qualified respiratory therapists.  Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital is one of 700 hospitals nationwide – or about 15 percent – that has received this award, and it’s one of only two long term care hospitals in Colorado.

The QRCR program was started in 2003 by the American Association for Respiratory Care. This designation is aimed at helping patients and families make informed decisions about the quality of the respiratory care services available in hospitals. This is the first year that Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital has applied for the designation.

“QRCR hospitals meet stringent national standards and guidelines for respiratory care services,” says Tracie Gunn, Respiratory Manager of Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “Earning this recognition validates that we embrace the ever-present challenge of achieving maximum, measurable results for our patients. We constantly strive to improve our quality of care.”

To qualify for the recognition, the hospital had to meet certain requirements, including:

  • All respiratory therapists employed by the hospital who deliver bedside respiratory care services are legally recognized by the state. Respiratory therapists are available 24 hours a day;
  • Respiratory therapists provide patient assessments and make clinical recommendations regarding patient needs and plans of care;
  • A competency-based training program is in place for all personnel administering respiratory care;
  • A physician is designated as medical director of respiratory care services.

At Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital, respiratory therapists work closely with physicians and staff to provide a wide range of respiratory services to patients. Ventilator weaning, tracheostomy care, and pulmonary disease management are a few basic services they provide. They are also key members of the Ventilator Wean Team; a multi-disciplinary approach to wean patients off ventilators. The team has experience with weaning patients with some of the most complex medical issues.

 

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New COO named at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital

Lamar McBride named Chief Operations Officer

Lamar McBride recently was named Chief Operations Officer for Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. The hospital is a 20-bed, free-standing facility that provides long-term acute care and critical care services for patients recovering from serious injuries or illnesses.

McBride possesses more than 18 years of extensive experience in healthcare strategy development and implementation. He has worked in major comprehensive academic and large health system environments, handling responsibilities for operational management, productivity improvements, physician relationship building, capital construction project management, strategic planning, and policy development. Prior to joining Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital, he was the administrative director of ancillary services at an acute care hospital in Westminster, Colo., where he was responsible for the operational and administrative functions of all non-nursing departments.

McBride earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in health services administration from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is an active volunteer with the National Association of Healthcare executives, Shorter AME Church, The Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and Big Brother and Big Sisters of Denver.

 

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