A Holistic Approach to Helping Patients Thrive

By: Kealy Hootman PT, Senior Director of Therapy, ATS

As the Director of Therapy at East Bank Center, I have the opportunity to work with not only a dedicated team of therapy professionals but also nurses, social workers, physicians and other clinical care professionals who are focused on helping our patients thrive and achieve their quality of life goals.

Over the 15+ years working at East Bank Center, two of the biggest shifts impacting care have been the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM). This shift from volume to value-based care truly supports a person-centered approach for the achievement of quality outcomes.

Today, we care for sicker patients who are clinically complex, many of whom are recovering from surgical intervention, a life-altering event or a traumatic injury. To help our patients thrive, it is important to not only address the functional aspects of the illness or injury recovery but also understand the patient’s rehabilitation goals, available support from caregivers upon discharge and overall quality of life goals. Our rehab and clinical teams work side-by-side to develop a holistic plan of care in order to achieve quality outcomes.

Recently, I had a few moments to connect with Nicole Garner, Administrator at East Bank Center to gain her insight on the importance of person-centered care.

Q: What are a few of the unique aspects of East Bank Center’s focus on rehab?

A: All of our patients are receiving therapy and being supported through specific interventions provided by our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology and Clinical Care team. The facility is 100% short-term therapy focused, treating patients who are recovering from a cardiac, trauma or neurological event, or in need of intensive orthopedic rehabilitation. Our primary goal is to enhance the patient’s functional status to live as independently as possible and ensure a successful care transition.

Q: What changes have been made to the clinical team’s approach due to PDPM?

A: Our approach has remained consistent, however, the complexity of care has increased. We are rehabilitating sicker patients who have multiple co-morbidities that need to be considered and addressed. The plan of care is very focused on ways to achieve the best clinical outcome and how interventions support the patient’s discharge goals. Our therapy and nursing teams have the most direct contact with our patients due to our rehabilitation focus, so close communication throughout the day with the other members of the IDT helps keep us all on track. In the new COVID-19 world, ways for us to complete home assessments and communication with family/caregivers in order to prepare a patient for discharge have been customized to each situation. Our goal is to provide our patients, and their family/caregivers, the confidence needed for continued success at home.

Q: What advice do you have for other care professionals to help their patients thrive and achieve their goals?

A: Be creative when developing a patient’s plan of care. For example, if a patient likes to sew or garden, consider ways how to include specific activities into the treatment plan. Also, tap the IDT’s creative side by gaining feedback on how to engage their patients and other staff members. For example, Kara Casey, PTA at East Bank Center, worked with patients and the care team to design a window scape that resembled stained glass. This provided a fun and creative approach to support patients’ functional ability.


Pictured: A window scape project created by the East Bank Center therapy team and their patients.


Leadership Recommendations

  • Promote a holistic rehabilitation approach by identifying patient-specific functional ability and overall quality of life goals.
  • Build trust across the IDT by encouraging open communication regarding specific patient changes in conditions that may affect the overall plan of care.
  • Be creative when identifying ways to engage patients and the IDT in goal achievement.
  • Support the IDT with the resources, tools and training needed to foster a collaborative environment and staff competency.
  • Keep updated on the dynamic regulatory, operational and clinical environment to support your organization’s ongoing success.