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St. Joseph Transitional Care Unit Celebrates 20 Years of Helping Patients

Fort Wayne, Ind. (Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2010) — The Transitional Care Unit at St. Joseph Hospital will celebrate its 20th anniversary on March 23. TCU is a skilled nursing facility that provides transitional care for patients who may no longer require the full resources of the hospital, but still require short-term medical attention during their recovery or rehabilitation. In the last decade alone, approximately 4,000 patients have chosen TCU for their transitional care.

"St. Joseph Hospital is a forerunner in transitional care," said Julie Kelly, director of nursing, Transitional Care Unit. "Twenty years ago, St. Joseph Hospital established the first separate but hospital-based transitional care facility in Fort Wayne. This approach has provided optimal convenience for patients because they have access to everything, even specialty doctors, within the same building."

The TCU's location on the ninth floor of St. Joseph Hospital enables patients to quickly access specialty care and diagnostic services if needed. Convenient services within the building include laboratory, X-ray, pharmacy, wound care, rehabilitation and respiratory therapy. Although it is located in a hospital, the unit has a homelike ambiance and patients are encouraged to bring personal items to further enhance that atmosphere. Patients are also invited to wear their own clothes rather than hospital gowns.

Physical and occupational therapists work with patients daily in an apartment that was recently re-located to the fifth floor at St. Joe to recreate home living experiences in a controlled environment. The small apartment has a kitchen area, dinette, living space with recliner and sofa to help patients regain their mobility in a way that mimics the residential setting. Patients can practice the activities of daily living like moving dishes from the kitchen to the dining space. Therapists provide training for both bed and tub transfers so patients learn techniques that enhance their mobility and progress.

"Practicing everyday activities really helped build my confidence to return home," said Helen Gochenour. "The people in St. Joe's Transitional Care Unit were so good, so helpful. I couldn't believe I got to go home early because I had such good upper body strength. The care was excellent."

"It's an ideal setup to help patients eliminate the anxiety of returning home," said Kelly. "Our rehab and nursing teams work together to ensure patients are ready to return home and function safely."

A majority of patients who have used transitional care at St. Joe are recovering from an orthopaedic surgery or an accident, have COPD, congestive heart failure or de-conditioning due to illness. TCU has 21 beds, three of which are private for isolation or other such needs.


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