Anne Marie Resor’s summer did not start as she imagined.
She was on a horseback ride a few weeks ago on her family’s Snake River Ranch, on her way to see an eagle’s nest on the property. Resor has been riding horses for years, even though “it’s not like I can do a dressage competition,” she said, but that day she was on a new animal that she didn’t. did not know well.
âTwo of the horses got scared, and I fell and my son fell,â she said. “And I think this fall I might have broken my pelvis.”
Shaking off the pain, she climbed back on the horse.
âI had asked the wrangler if she would take a lead rope to make sure I was okay,â Resor said. “And a few minutes later, I was thrown off the horse again.”
The second time around, it is undeniable that she was injured. She broke a cervical vertebra, three ribs, her shoulder blade, collarbone, wrist and part of her pelvis, and she punctured a lung.
Using an inflatable panel, emergency responders lifted her out of the ranch and to St. John’s Health, where medics stabilized her injuries. In Resor’s only surgery, Dr Gregory Thompson repaired her “mutilated” wrist, but given the extent of her injuries, she was unable to return home after emergency treatment.
In the past, Resor has reportedly been transported to Salt Lake City or Idaho Falls to complete her inpatient rehabilitation, an intensive process that includes several hours of therapy each day. Patients who need inpatient rehabilitation often cannot perform day-to-day tasks. The establishment teams therefore help them learn to adapt to basic functions.
Instead, Resor was able to stay in Jackson for this care because St. John’s just opened its own inpatient rehabilitation center in the new Sage Living building. While Sage Living is not yet complete, rehabilitation services are operational, with Resor and another patient baptizing the facility.
The opening of such a facility is a significant milestone for a hospital the size of St. John’s. Most of the comparable deals can be found in larger cities, the closest being in Cheyenne, Salt Lake and Idaho Falls.
Inpatient rehabilitation is for patients with acute needs that go beyond home health care. They can have neurological disorders such as a stroke or, like Resor, multiple trauma following an accident.
“We are going to take patients who need three hours of therapy a day – physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy,” said medical director Dr Ali Flis. “Then they also have sufficient medical complexity to require daily medical supervision.”
Flis is a faculty member at the University of Utah and oversees patient transfers from the acute side of the teaching hospital to the rehabilitation side. She helped open an inpatient rehabilitation center in Salt Lake a year ago, then âjumpedâ at the opportunity to open one in St. John’s.
She’s in town as the facility opens to guide the interdisciplinary team, which includes a multitude of therapists, social workers and nurses. She helps them learn the daily routine before joining a rotating team of academic physicians who will take turns working each week in St. John’s.
While Resor was in the facility, therapy began the moment she woke up.
The 16 rooms are like miniature hotel suites, with a television, a movable bed and a bathroom. On the wall, Resor even kept a photo of his dog, Albert, named after his frizzy white mop that looks like a certain German physicist.
She would first follow occupational therapy, which aims to help people develop skills in the real world. The therapist helped her get out of bed, shower, and dress, which can happen in her bedroom.
Then the therapist helped to have breakfast, either in her room or in the common dining room. Like most patients, she went straight into a physiotherapy session, sometimes with a rest first.
âI try to have a morning session with most patients if they can handle it,â said physiotherapist Cara Sengebush.
The facility has a range of high-tech gymnastic equipment, some of which are very rehabilitation-specific, such as a bodyweight assisted treadmill. A harness relieves people’s legs, then therapists help them walk, which is especially crucial for patients with neurological conditions whose brains may not remember basic daily tasks.
âThey’re not really functional walks, but the important part of it is just getting the repetition,â Sengebush said. “If someone has had a stroke or a brain injury, we have to get them to do this activity over and over again and that’s really how you build these neural recall pathways.”
In addition to the treadmill, the facility has stimulation machines that send electrical impulses in the sequence of muscles that move a particular part of the body. Therapists also have a machine that films patients and helps identify ways their bodies are having trouble moving or compensating.
For patients like Resor, more occupational therapy could follow physical rehabilitation. The facility has a room that simulates the amenities of a home, including a double bed and a kitchen. Patients practice the skills they need to return home.
“What that looks like depends on the patient’s goals, what they want to do at home,” said Jen Chiappa, director of medical, surgical and rehabilitation services at the hospital.
Resor used the kitchen to make a batch of brownies. With an oven, sink, and dishwasher, she had everything she needed – or so she thought.
Once she gathered the brownies and the washed dishes – all as part of her therapy – she discovered the oven wasn’t working. With the larger Sage Living building still under construction, there are issues to be addressed and the oven will not start due to an electrical issue. So, while Resor returned to his room, the brownies were taken to the Living Center to be baked.
All of this therapy, at least three hours but sometimes longer, can seem overwhelming, but patients with such acute needs need a variety of skills to get home. They need empowerment as well as tools to navigate their new reality, which for Resor might only persist until it heals, but could last a lifetime for a stroke patient.
Resor didn’t think it was too bad.
âIn your mind, you’re like, ‘Three hours of therapy, how could I do that?’ “, did she say. “But you know, the therapy has been great.”
As Resor waited for her brownies to be baked and returned, she visited her nephew, Miller Resor, as the grass waved in the wind over the National Elk Refuge through her window. They exchanged jokes and stories, then her nephew gave her a hug as he left.
For Flis, the medical director, these times are the biggest perk of having an inpatient rehab facility in Jackson. The level of care it provides was already available in the area, but there is a difference between sending a family member to East Jackson or to a facility in Salt Lake City.
“Do you want them to stay there for six weeks?” Or stay at EIRMC for six weeks? Said Flis. âOr can they come here and be closer to family and friends and a supportive environment? “
Since the goal of the rehabilitation facility is to prepare patients to return home, having family in town helps this process, Flis said. When the patients leave, they are not healed, just well enough to go home. Often they have home health professionals come in for therapy, but their family members help them with day to day life.
Because the facility is in town, family members can learn the tools loved ones need to put on clothes or activities they might find difficult, like getting out of bed. This is why, in addition to all the staff who help with the different types of rehabilitation, social workers are also part of the team.
âThis social worker is really going to get to know the family, the family dynamics and interact with the family, interact with the patients, and then figure out what kind of support they need,â said Flis.
Resor said she was happy to spend a few weeks in a rehabilitation center as it gave her time to heal and the team to come up with a plan. It will help her family through their summer of recovery.
“The better off I will be when I get home,” she said, “the easier it will be for everyone to help me because I will still need help.”