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Valley Kiwanis Club hosts EAMC-Lanier rehabilitation unit

VALLEY — With National Rehabilitation Awareness Week taking place this month, the Kiwanis Club of Valley had an appropriate program Wednesday.

Jan Greene, the program director for EAMC-Lanier Hospital’s acute rehabilitation unit, talked about the many services available in the Greater Valley Area that help people in need of rehabilitation services.

“We live in the heart of what’s been called the stroke belt,” Greene said. “About half of our patients are individuals who have had a stroke. We also have people who are recovering from accidents. They may have had some kind of orthopedic-related injury, multiple trauma injury or a burn injury. We try to stabilize them and transition them back to their home environment. Each day they have three hours of therapy that helps them with basic skills such as walking, bathing and dressing. We help them reach a new normal.”

Greene said EAMC has been very supportive in getting the acute rehab unit the equipment it needs to help people get back to that new normal.

“The equipment can be very expensive but produces amazing results,” Greene said, citing the example of a computer-driven harness that can get people back on their feet again. “You should see the expression on their face when they can do things in the harness they thought they’d never do again. The equipment is so helpful to stroke victims in helping them get back to that new normal. As a healthcare provider, it is so rewarding to hear someone say ‘I can still do this!’ I have been in rehab for 25 years, and it blows my mind to see what some of this new equipment can do.”

The acute rehab facility opened on Oct.1, 2016. It’s a 17-bed unit on the hospital’s top floor.

“It’s such a beautiful setting overlooking the river,” Greene said. “It’s hard to be depressed when you see the sun coming up over the Chattahoochee River.”

Another skill set patients relearn is getting into and out of a car.

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia made a key contribution by donating a car.

“They can work with their family in practicing this,” Greene said. “They can help them master it, and their loved one will have no problem getting into and out of the car when they go to church, shopping or visiting friends. It’s sometimes overwhelming for a patient recovering from a stroke or an acute injury to go out in the community for the first time. They need the support of their family, or sometimes our staff, to help them do this.”

The unit also has a kitchen where patients can relearn domestic tasks.

“We have two full-time therapists and one part-time therapist working five days a week giving each patient three hours of therapy each day. It depends on the needs of the patient, but we never do less than that. We have activities such as church and bingo on the weekends. It’s so important they are supported by their peers in the community. Sometimes they don’t walk and talk the same.”

The acute rehab unit has a high success rate. An estimated 75 percent of the patients treated there transition back to the community. The remaining 25 percent will need long-term care.

“The average length of stay is 14 days,” Greene said. “In instances of multiple trauma or severe strokes, it can take up to 28 days. A couple of weeks ago 85 percent of our patients were able to go back home.”

Greene also said she has seen a disturbing trend.

“We are seeing a lot of strokes,” she said. “It seems like they are getting younger and younger. We do live in what is being called the stroke belt.”

Greene said the acute rehab unit is getting excellent leadership from its supervising physician, Dr. Fred Aziz.

“We are proud of what we have accomplished, and the outcomes we are seeing. I’m proud to be part of the acute rehab unit at EAMC-Lanier. The people of the Valley are amazing, and the hospital is so supportive. It’s a great legacy for the community that so many people gave a day’s pay to have the hospital built in 1950.”