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Choosing a Rehab Center

Finding the right rehabilitation program for you or your loved one is an important decision to make during a very difficult time in your life. The following questions should be asked prior to choosing a rehabilitation program to insure that your needs are matched with the appropriate services and skills offered is the key to successful rehabilitation.
The questions are suggested by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) – an accreditation agency for rehabilitation facilities. The answers are provided by Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center (PNRC) and describe how our facility can meet your needs for rehab care.

Does the program specialize in rehabilitation?

The rehabilitation facility you choose should have specialists including physicians; nurses; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; psychologists; recreational therapists and case managers. All of these specialists work together to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient.

The PNRC difference… Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center (PNRC) has been providing specialized, individual care for patients with disabilities since 1978. Using the team approach to treatment, PNRC offers individualized programs for the treatment of brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke and orthopedics.

Does the program provide a continuum of care?

The rehabilitation process does not stop with the inpatient rehabilitation stay. Individuals may require varying levels of care prior to or following their inpatient stay, including outpatient therapy or long-term inpatient care. Having easy access to these different levels of care can be critical to rehabilitative success.

The PNRC difference… PNRC is a 73-bed inpatient rehabilitation facility housed within Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. Our continuum has expanded over the years to meet the varying needs of our patients to include:

Twelve outpatient clinics in the immediate region offering physical, speech and occupational therapy;
A Transitional or Skilled Care Unit designed for patients who require additional nursing/therapy care, but not at the level of intensity provided in a rehabilitation facility;Brain Injury Day Treatment Program for patients who no longer require an inpatient stay, but still need to improve cognitive functions; and,
Long-Term Acute Care for those patients who require long-term, in-hospital care but not at the rehabilitation facility level.
Having these multiple levels of care allow PNRC to match the immediate patient needs with the appropriate level of service.

Is the program team experienced in treating your condition?

Providing a team of professionals with vast experience treating a specific condition offers a higher level of expertise than those programs whose staff treat patients with a variety of injuries/conditions. Specialized staff are more sensitive to the specific needs of the patients, have applicable experience and will provide more creative treatments to lead the patient to a stronger recovery. Programs specializing in particular disabilities also provide opportunities to interact with other patients with similar problems. This interaction is quite beneficial to the recovery process for the patient and family.

The PNRC difference… PNRC has distinguished itself from other regional rehabilitation facilities through specialization in brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and orthopedics. This specialization has allowed us to employ highly trained professional clinicians with disability-specific experience. We encourage specialization of our staff and provide the educational resources so staff members can continue to improve their skills in their area of expertise and provide patients the most up-to-date care possible.

Do physicians who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation lead the program and are they board-certified?

Specialized rehabilitation care requires physicians who have trained in physician medicine and rehabilitation. Such physicians are called physiatrists. Rehabilitation facilities should have physiatrists on staff that lead the rehabilitation team. Programs dedicated to the highest level of care will have only physiatrists certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

The PNRC difference… All physicians at PNRC are board-certified/qualified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with experience in treating individuals who have disabling conditions. The physicians are supported by a full compliment of specialty physicians from Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center to help meet any medical needs that may arise while a patient is in our care.

Has the program demonstrated success in treating your specific condition including successfully discharging patients back to the community?

All rehabilitation programs have goals designed to return an individual to the highest level of function possible. Quality rehabilitation programs can demonstrate their success through objective outcome measurements. Because rehabilitation cases vary from patient to patient, outcome data needs to be closely evaluated. One indicator of effective rehabilitation is how successful a center is in returning patients to their home. Success in returning patients home is affected both by the severity of injuries and the quality of care provided. Involving the family in discharge planning process is critical to the success of a rehabilitation stay.

The PNRC difference… PNRC participates in the Functional Independent Measurement System (FIMS) which is widely used to measure functional outcomes in rehabilitation centers. It allows facilities to compare themselves with facilities within their region and nationally. Patients discharged from PNRC consistently make greater functional gains than both the regional and national averages.

Our primary goal at PNRC is to return patients to their community. The discharge planning process begins prior to admission and involves discussing various discharge options with the patient and family. This process helps everyone understand the likelihood of returning a patient to their primary home or to the home of a relative/friend. Discharge planning continues throughout the inpatient stay and is coordinated by a case manager who works closely with the patient/family and staff to insure a successful discharge. This planning may include a home evaluation to determine accessibility concerns and recommendations to the family concerning any modifications that may be necessary. Because of our specialized clinics, PNRC has a reputation of treating some of the more involved and challenging conditions. Despite this, PNRC discharges a higher percentage of patients to a home setting than the national or regional average.

Does the program provide a wide range of rehabilitation services?

Quality rehabilitation addresses not only the physical needs of patients but also incorporates emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and vocational needs into the treatment process. Providing this wide range of services insures that a program can meet the varying needs of patients.

The PNRC difference… PNRC is staffed with a team of professionals who will help meet all needs of the patients during their rehabilitation stay. In addition to nurses, therapists, and physicians who address the patients’ physical needs, PNRC offers emotional guidance through our many support groups – for both patients and caregivers. We also have labs to assist in the re-education of computer and driving skills, as well as chaplain services for those seeking spiritual guidance.

Does the staff understand family concerns?

Families are affected by the need for their loved one to have rehabilitation. Quality programs will recognize this need and have specific services designed for the family, including education, discharge planning and insuring that the family is an active participant in the care of the patient.

The PNRC difference… PNRC staff understands the specialized needs of families and has designed services to help meet these needs. Families are strongly encouraged to be present during therapies so they can learn about the treatment and progress of their family member. Family education occurs informally (while observing therapy) or formally through education groups.

Does the program have medical support in the case of a complication or new illness?

Rehabilitation programs should have access to other medical services including emergency care. Having physician specialists available to treat any medical condition is an important component to consider in choosing a rehabilitation facility.

The PNRC difference… PNRC is fortunate to be housed within Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center (FSRMC). FSRMC is a 331-bed acute care facility. This proximity provides access to physician specialists, ancillary services and emergency care.

Are there technicians on the treatment team who fabricate the equipment patients need to gain independence, or is equipment provided by outside vendors?

Having staff that is able to evaluate a patient’s needs and then provide equipment that is specific to the patient is an important aspect of the rehabilitation process. Poor fitting equipment can deter a patient’s progress and possibly pose a safety hazard.

The PNRC difference… At PNRC, professional therapists fabricate splints, casts, and other equipment needed for the patient’s comfort or treatment regimen. A specialized seating and mobility clinic equipped with a pressure mapping evaluation system is utilized to evaluate and ensure the patient’s most functional positioning, mobility, and posture in a wheelchair or other durable medical equipment.

Does the program advocate for the rights of people with disabilities?

The goal of successful rehabilitation is for the patient to return to their home or community and be able to enjoy their best quality of life. In many cases that includes a return to school or work where physical barriers or stereotypical attitudes may exist.

The PNRC difference… PNRC begins advocacy by promoting prevention. We sponsor the local “Think First Program” by providing clinicians and former patients or their families who speak to high school age students about thinking before engaging in reckless activities like driving or riding with someone under the influence, speeding, diving into a pool when the bottom is not visible, etc. We also promote stroke prevention and education by holding community risk assessments and emergency instruction procedures.

PNRC partners with other local organizations providing equipment or information for disability awareness events. We are a resource for anyone who has a disability as well businesses who require accommodations advice. PNRC also sponsors or assists support groups for people with all types of disabilities.

Is the program accredited?

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) are independent organizations that serve as quality control intermediaries. Rehabilitation programs are not required to be accredited by either organization. Those programs that voluntarily accept their standards make quality service a top priority.

The PNRC difference… PNRC has earned accreditation from JCAHO and has also earned voluntary accreditation from CARF in the areas of:

Comprehensive Integrated Inpatient Rehabilitation Programs (for both adults and children)
Spinal Cord System of Care
Brain Injury Program
Medical Rehabilitation Case Management
Outpatient Medical Rehabilitation
Stroke Specialty Programs
Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is a Stroke Center of Excellence