National Rehabilitation Awareness Week

September 14, 2014


Shirley Jurczak of Brookville went to her refrigerator to get some grapes for a snack. Like most of us, she saw something else in the fridge that needed to be thrown away while she was in there.

When she pulled out the item for the trash, some of it spilled on the floor. She wiped it up.

This simple event led to a life-changing evening for Shirley.

Jurczak stepped on the wet floor, and “down I went,” she said. She thought she could get to her cell phone, but something was the matter. She couldn’t move.

She sat there all night, and “it wasn’t very comfortable,” she said.  

The next day, her home health nurse heard her through the screen door.  The nurse was coming because Shirley was also getting over back surgery. 

The nurse called 9-1-1 and Jurczak was taken to Penn Highlands Brookville for evaluation and then to Penn Highlands DuBois for surgery.

Jurczak had a sore spot on her shoulder from hitting the ridges of her cupboard and a broken hip.

After surgery, Jurczak was transferred upstairs at PH DuBois to The Rehabilitation Center, a 29 bed inpatient rehabilitation unit located on the fifth floor of PH DuBois West.  The Rehab Center helps patients gain strength and improve mobility, with the goal of returning home, or the least restrictive setting appropriate, and achieving the highest level of independence possible.  

It is an intensive program for people who have been affected by stroke, brain injury, neurological disorders, multiple traumas, knee or hip replacements, amputation, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal cord injuries.

Within days after her surgery, Jurczak was up and walking with the steadiness support of a walker. She went through physical and occupational therapy to get her moving and mobile, again.

“I feel a lot better,” she said. “I am ready to go home.” And she did. 

Following surgeries or other illnesses, rehabilitating a patient is always a priority to get people back to a normal life.

“The Rehab Center at PH DuBois is the only licensed inpatient rehabilitation center in the tri-county area,” Marty Maloney, director of The Rehabilitation Center, The Joint Replacement Center, the Therapies at PH DuBois and PH Brookville and the athletic trainers at PH DuBois, said.

“What does this mean?  This means that patients receiving care through the Rehab Center get more therapy and rehab nursing care than in any other settings, gain better and quicker outcomes and return home sooner.” he said.

“At least three hours of therapy care is provided throughout the day and is performed at least five-days a week, to help return our patients to their previous functional level. Our nurses have specialized care and training to support and promote the patients goals of improving their function,” he said.

“Our patients enjoy daily care, interaction and overall supervision performed by our physicians who have specialty training in physical medicine and rehabilitation. PH DuBois has been in the top 10 percent of national performers in gaining patient outcomes. We work very hard to get our patients back home and if needed, gain additional support from our Penn Highlands’ facilities and programs,” Maloney sa8id.

This year, Sept. 21-27 is National Rehabilitation Awareness Week. It is designated to educate everyone about the benefits and impact of rehabilitation. Doctors, nurses, care aides, technicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists, all work together to help individuals overcome obstacles and accomplish normal tasks of daily living.

At PH DuBois and throughout the Penn Highlands Healthcare system – PH Brookville, PH Clearfield and PH Elk – therapies are provided on an outpatient basis with some of the therapy work starting while patients are still in the hospital. Patients may also receive therapies in the home with each of the home health agencies of Penn Highlands Healthcare. And at PH Elk, Pinecrest Manor nursing home provides rehab services to its residents.

 Though this care is important, those providing the rehabilitation care are also ramping up for another important event – Fall Awareness Day on Sept. 23.

Statistics show that every 29 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall; every 14 seconds an older adult is treated in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury.

Penn Highlands Healthcare is marking Fall Awareness Day with education.

At PH DuBois, educational events will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the atrium at PH DuBois West and the Medical Arts Building, both along Hospital Avenue, DuBois. 

At PH Brookville, the Home Health team will host an interactive display in the lobby of the hospital with times to be announced. See next week’s Tri-County Sunday for details.