By RENEE WEBB
A new skilled nursing unit has been up and running at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City for a few months.
Chris Severson, administrator of the skilled care unit, said the new unit allows patients to transition from the hospital setting to skilled care. Oftentimes, patients may need daily therapy and nursing intervention, but not the specialized care of a hospital setting.
“The nursing staff is monitoring medical needs, watching for changes and early warning signs and communicating with physicians,” she said.
While Severson is uncertain as to the trend in hospitals adding skilled care nursing units, she is aware several hospitals within the Trinity Health family, which Mercy is a part of, have added these units.
Response to the unit by patients has been very good, Severson noted, adding, “We have had rave reviews from the families.”
The unit, which opened in late July, is located on the seventh floor in Mercy’s North Building. Currently, the unit has 10 beds open and by mid-November they anticipate opening another 10 beds.
According to Severson, those who have used the services of the skilled care unit are current patients of Mercy or Center for Neurosciences, Orthopaedics & Spine (CNOS) and Dunes Surgical Center, both in Dakota Dunes, S.D.
“With those who come from CNOS and Dunes Surgical, most of the patients are recouping from surgery,” she explained.
For the Mercy patients who are seeking skilled care, Severson noted, they have had their acute care needs met at the hospital and now need to go somewhere else, but still need nursing services. These patients might have difficult wound care or need frequent IV (intravenous) medication every four to eight hours, which can be difficult for some nursing homes with limited RN coverage. These patients are not always accepted at some skilled care facilities.
“The skilled care unit at Mercy offers 24-hour RN coverage,” said Severson.
Currently, the average length of stay has been 27 days based on all 34 people Mercy has had in their unit so far.
“Some have stayed longer and some stay for less days,” Severson said. “One gentleman stayed right at seven days.”
The goal, she said, is to send them to a lesser care area or home with all the services they need to prevent readmission and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Part of this includes teaching the patients about how to take their medication or wound care, which can be supplemented with Mercy Home Care and outpatient therapy services.
There is a therapy department onsite at the skilled unit that offers contracted therapy. The skilled unit also features a dining room, kitchenette, exercise room, television area, staff offices and more.
While nursing homes typically have an older client base, Severson said a wide range of people have utilized the services of Mercy’s skilled care facility.
“We have admitted some young people in their 30s and 40s,” she said.
Many patients have found the unit to be a nice option because of its connectivity to the hospital.
“They know if they are sick, then we just have to go across the skywalk and the physicians are right here,” she said.