Frances Marmo, 77, wants to take a train ride across Canada, down to California, and over to Las Vegas.
It’s a journey of a few thousand miles that must begin with 175 feet.
That’s the length of the hallway from her room to the gym at the HealthSouth in Aldie, a recently opened acute rehabilitation hospital.
Marmo, of Woodbridge, suffers from pulmonary hypertension, and after a bacterial infection left her hospitalized three different times for a total of about six weeks, she needed rehab to strengthen her endurance so she could walk without collapsing.
After being admitted on July 8, the first time she walked from her room to the gym she had to stop four times to catch her breath.
“Yesterday I walked the hall four times,” Marmo said July 13.
She hopes to go home by the end of this week.
Independence is the goal at HealthSouth, the first acute rehab hospital in Loudoun, where patients dealing with illness, injury and mental conditions can go through therapy so they can then live more comfortably at home.
The hospital has 40 beds and 50 staff members, including 12 nurses. The goal is to eventually have 60 beds and 150 staff members, including 32 nurses.
Outpatient services will start this fall. It’s the 95th HealthSouth facility nationwide, but the first to entirely use electronic medical records.
HealthSouth can handle conditions including strokes, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The average stay for a patient is 12 to 14 days.
A typical day for a patient begins at 5 or 6 a.m., when a nurse takes the patient’s vital signs and does lab draws. Morning medications follow, and then the patient washes himself and prepares for breakfast at 7:30 a.m.
The first rehab session begins at 9 a.m. Patients must do three hours of rehab a day, often split neatly into one hour each of physical, occupational and speech therapy.
“They’re pretty busy, and by 3 p.m. they’re exhausted,” chief nursing officer Rosey Espiritu said.
Physical therapy includes mini tabletop machines similar to bicycles that patients pedal with their hands, and the AutoAmbulator, which is like a treadmill with a harness that completely supports the patient’s weight, allowing her to focus on relearning how to walk.
One of the main features of occupational therapy is the ADL unit, which stands for activity of daily living. This room is a simulated household with a bed, kitchenette, laundry facilities and an adjoining bathroom. Patients can practice getting in and out of bed, washing dishes or clothes, and taking a bath. Occupational therapy also includes eating two out of every three meals in the dining room with the other patients.
Speech therapy is a “misnomer,” therapy director Jason Waibel said, as it also focuses on cognition, memory and reasoning. When speech therapy is not necessary, physical and occupational therapy each take up an extra half hour.
“If you came in for a knee replacement, you’re not going to need speech therapy, but if you fell and broke your hip because you’re easily distracted and have problems remembering, you might need speech therapy,” Waibel said.
“We support them returning to independence,” said spokeswoman Janet Smith.
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