April 18, 2019

Michele Pilon: Rehabilitation Services at Transylvania Regional Hospital: Helping Patients Get Back to Living Life Fully

Michele PilonBy Michele Pilon
Chief Executive Officer/Chief Nursing Officer, Transylvania Regional Hospital

We often associate emergency services, specialty care, or the latest and greatest new treatments on the horizon for such things as cancer and heart disease, with the services that hospitals provide. One service area that can go unsung but is all-encompassing and vitally important to a wide range of patients is rehabilitation, or “rehab” services. This month I want to outline the excellent rehab services Transylvania Regional Hospital offers, who they are targeted to, and why they will always be integral to our work.

Our Speech Therapy (ST), Occupational Therapy (OT), and Physical Therapy (PT) services help patients relearn or regain speech, master daily living skills like cooking and bathing, and heal to a place of maximized mobility, respectively. Tom Hartz, MPT, Physical Therapist and Manager of Rehabilitation Services for TRH, explains that the hospital’s highly qualified rehab services staff helps patients recover from many conditions, including sports injuries, recovery from stroke or total joint replacement, and more. “Our PTs, OTs, and STs are pivotal links for every patient who needs their services – if an inpatient wants to be discharged but they aren’t quite at the point where they can return home, our team provides these services in our Transitional Care Unit. Additionally, our PT, OT, and COTA (OT Assistant) always provide one-on-one direct care with inpatients and outpatients, building relationships based on trust with patients, which is essential. This continuity of care is critical,” says Hartz, adding that PT staff has an average of 20 years of experience in their field and OT staff, 22 years. The department’s ST has recently completed two additional certifications as well.

Hartz also shares that the rehab services team focuses on fall prevention, a leading cause of injuries for older adults. “We conduct fall risk screenings, screen for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), a common but treatable vertigo condition, and connect with patients’ primary care providers so patients can participate in a research-based fall prevention program.

The hope is for TRH’s rehab to grow in the coming years. “It would be great if we could expand our existing programs and start new specialty programs, like one we’ve become involved with called Big and Loud, that’s targeted to people affected with Parkinson’s Disease,” said Hartz.

TRH also offers two more exemplary rehab programs: The Cardiac Rehab and Pulmonary Rehab programs. Managed by Teri Redmond, TRH’s Manager of Disease Management and Clinical Cardiology, Cardiac Rehab offers community members recovering from cardiac interventions a diverse array of options for improving and maintaining their cardiac health not only while they’re in rehab, but for the long-term, post-rehab. Patients enjoy a customized, medically supervised exercise plan, education sessions on lowering heart disease risk through lifestyle practices like diet and stress reduction, and support from their peers in recovery. Program providers also ensure that each patient’s primary care provider and cardiologist are updated on the patient’s progress. “For patients who have experienced a heart condition, cardiac rehab can give them a new lease on life and allow them to gain the confidence needed to return to living a healthy and productive life,” says Redmond.

“Pulmonary rehabilitation is a great program where patients see improvement in their abilities to perform activities of daily living, because we help train the body to work more efficiently,” adds Redmond, describing the benefits that patients with chronic lung diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis can realize. The components are similar to the cardiac rehab program in that there is an exercise component, group classes, and an opportunity for patients to partner in their care to manage their lung disease and lower their risk of further complications.

TRH’s rehab services are designed with the patient in mind and the central goal is to restore each patient’s mobility, functioning, and health as much as possible so their quality of life will be enhanced. These programs illustrate the “keeping you well” part of TRH’s mission to help patients be well, get well, and stay well.

Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the Chief Executive Officer/Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Her diverse professional experience includes service as a bedside nurse and over a decade as a leader at healthcare institutions in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. Ms. Pilon earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Ohio’s University of Akron and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois; she is also a Board-Certified Nursing Executive.

Transylvania Regional Hospital