Patient Success Stories
Cornerstone Healthcare Hospitals treat more than 500 patients a day and several thousand a year. Meet some of our patients and read about their life-changing experiences. These are the sort of success stories that Cornerstone Healthcare physicians and staff make possible every day.
The Long Road to Home
Tom is an 87 year old man admitted to one of our four Cornerstone Hospitals in South Texas. He was referred to us from a local medical center with an infection, pneumonia and irritated gallbladder that would eventually need surgical intervention. He was physically deconditioned; needed breathing support from a bi-pap machine; had issues with swallowing; and was receiving numerous antibiotics. Tom and his family yearned to go home to Kansas City, so there was considerable motivation for timely and permanent restoration.
Because Tom was in need of assistance to return to his previous active life, his family requested aggressive therapy. The case management team’s primary goal was to insure Tom could go to Kansas City in his own car and in stable condition. The rehabilitation services team in concert with Tom’s family worked hard to achieve Tom’s goal of stability and strength. The nursing and respiratory teams worked closely with Tom’s physicians to resolve his infections and reduce his oxygen needs. Prior to leaving Cornerstone, Tom was able to assist with transfers and could move from sitting to standing positions.
The Cornerstone clinical team invested much time in collaboration and communication with Tom’s family and other healthcare providers who would continue Tom’s therapy after discharge from Cornerstone. The case management team communicated daily with Tom’s spouse and sons regarding daily progress and the importance of having Tom ready to leave according to his targeted discharge date. The Cornerstone team worked closely with out of state family members on travel arrangements for the long trip home. Finally, the Cornerstone case managers made arrangements with a skilled nursing facility to ensure there were no interruptions in his therapy and nursing care routines and to prepare him for surgery after he arrived in Kansas City. We are proud to report that Tom safely returned to his family in Kansas City and is doing well after his surgery.
A Journey to Walk Again: Early Mobilization of the Intensive Care Patient
Phyllis is a 73 year old previously physically active female who underwent a routine cardioversion for atrial fibrillation at a local hospital. She subsequently developed complicating pneumonia, sepsis and respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation. She was not out of bed or moving in the intensive care unit of the community hospital for three weeks prior to transfer to Cornerstone for intravenous antibiotics, ventilator weaning, wound care and physical rehabilitation. Phyllis arrived on a ventilator with severe muscle weakness and was fully dependent for all movement. She was alert and communicated to the staff by nodding her head and mouthing words. Phyllis’ goal was “to walk again.”
Phyllis was started on Cornerstone’s aggressive ventilator weaning protocol along with a four phase mobility program. We gave her a speaking valve while she was on the ventilator so she could better communicate with the staff.
Phyllis’ plan of care was tightly coordinated between the pulmonology and physical medicine staff. The entire interdisciplinary team coordinated efforts to provide Phyllis with adequate rest time to enhance her productive therapy time. Nursing worked in tandem with respiratory and rehabilitation therapy to coordinate activities of daily living and routine nursing care with her therapy times to keep her on track to reaching her daily and weekly goals.
Her rehabilitation program included the use of several state-of-the-art rehab technologies to include a mobile leg press machine and a hydraulic-assist platform walker. After six weeks, Phyllis was off the ventilator with no tubes attached to her body, breathing room air and walking 150 feet using a rolling walker with supervision. Phyllis was subsequently discharged to an acute rehabilitation hospital.
After two weeks of rehabilitation and one week at home, we were delighted when Phyllis came back to Cornerstone to visit as she had promised. “I told you” she exclaimed proudly, “I would be back walking again.”
A Second Chance
Prior to surgery, Sandra was an active wife and mother. Sandra came to Cornerstone in comatose state following neurosurgery where shortly after her procedure, she developed swelling in the oral pharynx and the team had difficulty with her intubation. The physician felt she had a lack of oxygen to her brain causing additional challenges for her full recovery. Her tongue was very swollen and protruded out her mouth requiring the use of a bite block. To prevent complications or injury, the physician suggested pulling all her teeth, but her husband refused. She also suffered with congestive heart failure, sinusitis, atrial fibrillation, anemia, hypertension and respiratory failure, making her ability to heal and be removed from the ventilator more of a challenge for the care team. Upon arrival Sandra was on full ventilator support and her family was unsure if she was even aware of her surroundings. Her family was not sure if continuing aggressive treatment was the right option, but after family discussions with her care team, everyone agreed to allow her a second chance at Cornerstone.
With the use of a soft teeth guard, and diligent clinical care, her tongue eventually returned to normal state. After a few weeks of aggressive care, Sandra’s level of alertness gradually increased. Due in part to rigorous physical and respiratory therapy regimens, Sandra was eventually weaned from the ventilator. Her tracheostomy tube was downsized and capped to allow use of her natural upper airway.
Sandra’s tracheostomy tube was soon removed and she was discharged to her home where she is again enjoying the sandy beaches of Florida. She and her husband are looking forward to attending their daughter’s wedding in the fall.
A Determined Recovery from Surgical Complications
Cornerstone Hospital of Conroe
Leah Williams was admitted to Cornerstone Hospital Conroe from a local acute care hospital following a major surgical procedure. Mrs. Williams had an extensive medical history which included atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and prior open heart surgery. These conditions likely explained in large part her difficult recovery from her surgical procedure and placement on a ventilator. Her resistance to the local hospital’s best efforts to wean her on the ventilator led to the placement of a tracheostomy tube (an artificial windpipe) to help her breathe. Upon her arrival to Cornerstone Hospital Conroe she was non-alert, restless, confused and only occasionally able to follow simple commands. Leah required maximum assistance with all of her activities of daily living and was unable to walk. She was a very debilitated patient.
With the encouragement of a very supportive husband, we immediately placed Mrs. Williams on our aggressive ventilator weaning program under the guidance of our highly specialized medical staff. Cornerstone’s dedicated team of physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapies, nursing, pharmacy and nutritional staff collaborated with Leah to develop an individualized treatment plan to uniquely address her expressed goals. This interdisciplinary team communicated daily to assure she was progressing as safely and timely as medically possible. Within several weeks, Leah was fully weaned to a tracheostomy collar. Shortly thereafter the ventilator was removed altogether.
The tracheostomy tube was subsequently removed and her rehabilitation course rapidly accelerated! Her husband was so encouraged to see Leah walking up and down the hall and regaining her ability to swallow and speak. She was now walking 200 feet with a rolling walker and enjoying a regular diet. And finally we were so proud to watch as Leah was wheeled out our hospital doors on her way home – all less than a month after she was admitted! Before going home and during one of her many therapy sessions, her therapy team was thrilled to hear Mrs. Williams exclaim: “I’ve impressed myself!”
Our Case Management team forwarded information regarding her treatment course along to her primary care physician and arranged a follow-up appointment to assure her progress would be sustained while at home. We all truly hopes she comes back to see us as a visitor!