Helping Healing

The Acute Rehabilitation Unit puts patients on the road to recovery

Dana Giammaria wasn’t sure she’d ever walk again after undergoing multilevel cervical spine surgery at Henry Mayo to treat her degenerative spine. As the days passed last December, the Newhall resident also feared she wouldn’t be able to take care of herself.

I lost all my motor skills—I couldn’t walk or hold a fork, toothbrush, comb or anything. People had to feed me. I couldn’t go to the bathroom alone or dress myself,” she said. 

Giammaria was transferred to the hospital’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit, where she spent seven weeks working with a team of occupational and physical therapists, rehabilitation nurses, and others to increase mobility, relearn skills and regain independence.

The 17-bed unit offers a comprehensive program aimed at helping patients increase their overall independence following a debilitating illness, injury or surgery. Taking a holistic approach to ensure patients progress to the highest functional level, the unit includes a kitchen and dining area so patients can practice their newly learned skills. 

Patients typically stay in the unit for seven to 14 days, then transition to outpatient facilities or to their homes (where they receive home-health therapies).

I find it so heartening to see little victories every day in our rehab patients and the celebration of their milestones when they leave,” said Surisham Dhillon, MD, the unit’s director and a neurologist. “We tell our patients to be optimistic and latch on to every hope and faith, and leave the rest to our dedicated staff to guide them.” 

Gayle Hoover, rehabilitation nurse liaison and case manager, added, “With all the life-changing events that bring patients to this unit, we feel privileged to be part of the healing process.” 

Giammaria, who can now walk with the aid of a walker, said, “I can’t say enough good things about the staff. Everyone has been so supportive—crying with me as I took my first steps. My progress is all due to them.” IYH