Swing Bed Programs in Full Swing

Genevieve Dlugolecki, of Gilman, had a pretty busy summer. She learned how to polish rocks with her little granddaughter Emily. An avid reader, she perused thrift sales to find books. And she never missed a parade that included her special friend playing with the Wausau Concertina Club.

And autumn for the 68-year-old former director of social services at a skilled nursing facility is looking to be just as active. Not bad for a woman who had an aortic valve replacement just before Memorial Day at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.

“This past spring I suffered from fainting spells and was very weak,” Genevieve said. “I had been having some heart problems, and they got progressively worse so my doctor in Eau Claire referred me to Dr. (Hope) Maki in Marshfield for surgery.”

The surgery was successful, and once she was ready for discharge, she had two options: a skilled nursing facility or the skilled swing bed/transitional care program at Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Stanley.

“A swing bed is an extended hospital care service for patients who no longer require an in-patient, acute level of care, but whose condition does require some skilled services,” said Cindy Eichman, Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital president. “The term means that the patient’s status changes, or swings, from an acute level of care to a ‘step-down’ level of care. The goal is to help the patient return home independently or with the help of community resources.”

“Obviously I needed more care, and mentally the swing bed unit was a better fit,” Genevieve said. “I’m only 68, and did not feel I am old enough for a nursing home. And in the Swing Bed unit, all the staff and equipment for keeping you alive, like an EKG and oxygen, are close by.” And that proved to be invaluable.

“The second day there I experienced a heart flutter, and the staff was able to complete an EKG within minutes,” Genevieve said. “I would have had to be re-admitted to a hospital at this point had I been in a nursing home. They were able to prevent that and take care of the problem right there.”

The high level of medical supervision and excellent care also impressed Genevieve.

“The physician assistant, Peter (Gintner) sat on my bed each day and talked to me about my condition,” she said. “And the physical and occupational therapies were very intense. I don’t think I would have made it home without them.”

“It was a pleasure to take care of Genevieve. She needed medical management for a number of problems related to her heart valve replacement and her overall medical condition related to her diabetes,” said Gintner. “We were able to treat her irregular heart rhythm and remove the fluid around her lungs that were part of her post surgery management. Through good medical management we also were able to reduce the swelling in her legs and provide her some intensive physical and occupational therapy so she could meet her goal of returning to home independently. I felt it was important to see Genevieve each day so she understood her plan of care, the progress she was making, and the need for her to continue to work hard on her rehabilitation. She was a great patient and I think she will do very well.”

Genevieve went home June 16, and now continues with her cardiac rehab at Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital. And she is grateful for all of her treatment, both at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital and in Stanley.

“The care in Marshfield was excellent, and Stanley is a wonderful local hospital,” she said. “When I was discharged I got the nicest thank you note signed by all of the staff that worked with me, from the medical staff to dietary to housekeeping. It made me feel very special. I was very pleased with my care at Ministry.”

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