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A little help from friends -- Short-term rehab gets patients moving

BRIAN BASHAM/RECORD Physical therapist Tara Caudle, right, helps Jan Axton with some walking exercises at Emmanuel Nursing Home last week.

On Jan. 25, Jan Axton had back surgery. She was in terrible pain, had to wear a back brace and couldn't get around.

"There was no way I could come home after that," she said.

So, she moved into Emmanuel Community for exactly one month. Located as a separate wing of the nursing home, the short-term rehabilitation center offers one-on-one services to help people get back in working condition.

"Our goal is everyone to return to their home," social worker Sue Sorenson said.

Axton used to work as a social worker for a hospital, doing screenings for nursing homes.

"Never, ever, ever did I think I'd need to be on those services," she said. "I like being on the other end of it."

But, if she is going to need those services, she said Emmanuel is the way to go.

"I recommend the staff. They got me through the first week," she said of the terrible pain she was in.

She made friends with other residents and staff members there. "They've become so dear to me." She said she plans to come back to visit and possibly volunteer.

Now home -- Axton went home Thursday afternoon -- she is also taking advantage of the home care services, with a nurse and nursing assistant coming to help her and a physical therapist coming out as well.

"They keep me honest," she said of the physical therapist coming to her. "If I'm on my own, I tend to..."

Since Axton is under 65, she also qualified to receive other equipment she might need, like a lift chair to help her get up easier.

Before Axton left Emmanuel, she had to reach certain goals to make sure she could live at home safely, like cooking her own meals.

Bridget Okeson, RN, said once in Emmanuel, staff will help patients with any conditions and with any assistance they may need -- medications, injections, physical and occupational therapy, speech, education, exercise, nutrition, social services, anything they may need.

Patients are encouraged to participate in activities in Emmanuel and eat together in the dining room as well.

"They get to communicate with people going through the same thing they are," she said.

Sorenson said 23 days is the average stay in the rehabilitation center.

If patients know they will be going through the short-term rehabilitation program, they can arrange for their personal belongings to be in the room and ready for them when they get there.

With Axton's stay being one month, she had plenty of time for visitors and playing Scrabble and Rummy.

"We strongly encourage that, families and pets," Sorenson said.

When it was time for Axton to leave, a group consisting of Axton, her family and Emmanuel staff got together and made sure she was ready to go back home.

"It's a team -- like a puzzle, each piece is important," Axton said.

There are no age limits to take advantage of the rehabilitation center. Sorenson said just call Emmanuel at 846-4486 and staff can find out about insurance coverage and services that can be provided, which are constantly expanding, she said.

"We are continually adding services," she said.

""And looking to grow," added physical therapist Tara Caudle.

"I felt so welcome when I came here," Axton said. Staff met her at the front door and a flower had been placed in her room, donated by local flower shops.

"They greet you at the door, literally, welcoming you like someone at their home," she said.