Saturday, April 7, 2018

Rockcastle Regional Hospital in Mount Vernon expands again to provide long-term care for more ventilator-dependent patients

The hospital has expanded across a Mount Vernon street to make room for more respiratory residents.
Rockcastle Regional Hospital in Mount Vernon is a national example of how a rural hospital found a new business model to serve people with specific needs.

The hospital is one of the few places in Kentucky that primarily provides long-term care to ventilator-dependent patients, Angela Reighard reports for Lexington's WKYT-TV.

"We're sort of a destination for ventilator care just because we do such a good job weaning people," John Lambert, the hospital's director of development, told Reighard. "We've had patients here from 26 different states."

At a time when dozens of rural hospitals have closed and others have merged with larger hospital groups to make ends meet, Rockcastle Regional has found a national niche.

The hospital recognized a need for long-term care for ventilator patients almost 40 years ago. It opened its first long-term care unit with 32 beds and added 28 more 12 years later. It recently completed an expansion of its Respiratory Care Center, which has 127 residents.

As part of the expansion, the hospital added technology to improve the quality of life for the patients staying there, Reighard reports. For example, 25 patients have received a Google Home device, which allows them to get information and music through voice control.

Teddy Fulton, a 10-year resident who sustained his injury from a trampoline accident when he was 16, told Reighard that he uses the device to listen to music.

"I had an iPod and people had to come turn the stations for me and stuff, but when I got the Google Home, I can play the music I want to, turn to any song I want to," Fulton said.

Reighard also notes Joe Pursiful, a two-year resident with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Pursiful can no longer speak, but is able to communicate through a Tobii device, which speaks for him by tracking his eye movement.

"This device was provided by donations from Team Gleason, an organization started by former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason," Reighard reports. It allows him to type sentences to describe what he wants and needs, and to also have a little fun.

"Since receiving my device I have gotten back a little bit of freedom," Pursiful said. "I can still communicate with people and let them know what I need. I just do it a little different."

The hospital eventually hopes to make it so patients can control their lights and temperatures on their own. Lambert told Reighard, "It's almost like, there's not a biological cure but there's a technological cure."

Click here to learn about donation opportunities for the hospital's ventilator patients.

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