East Galesburg woman heals closer to home

In June, 62-year-old East Galesburg resident Mary Knox underwent spine surgery to repair damage caused by scoliosis. Her surgery was at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center, with Daniel Fassett, MD, of OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute.

“It included surgery on my whole spine,” she said. “The scoliosis had gotten pretty bad, and it had gotten worse over the years from arthritis.” For years, Mary had pain in her lower back. Her legs were always tingly and numb, and she used a walker to help her along.

Following the surgery, she had no idea where she was going to go for rehabilitation. Last year, Mary’s doctor sent her to a nursing home for some rehab support. Mary had a fine experience at the nursing home, but knew she wanted something more.

Finding a better option

Before leaving OSF Saint Francis, Mary learned about the Closer to Home program at OSF HealthCare Holy Family Medical Center in Monmouth.

Dr. Fassett said some people go directly home following the kind of surgery I had, but thought the Closer to Home program would be a better option for me,” she said.

The Closer to Home program eliminates the inconvenience and worry of rehabilitating away from a patient’s support system, according to Frank Lasala, MD, chief medical officer at OSF Holy Family.

Closer to Home allows patients who aren’t in need of acute care in a hospital to move to another level of care before discharge. Patients can receive 24-hour skilled nursing care and individualized physical, occupational and speech therapy, in addition to other services.

Dr. Lasala said the program began about a year ago, after OSF Illinois Neurological Institute approached the hospitals that already had swing beds — a room that can be converted from acute care to skilled care — about beginning a program to provide postsurgical rehabilitation care for those patients who had complex spinal fusion surgery.

Dr. Lasala said OSF Holy Family has worked to establish a comprehensive team approach.

“We all work hard on this, and we are proud of our facility, our nurses, case manager and therapy department,” added Dr. Lasala. “We do interdepartmental rounding on patients Monday through Friday — that includes a pharmacist, physical therapist, case manager, nurse and physician.”

Building up strength

Shannon McVey, social worker/case manager at OSF Holy Family, said the high nurse-to-patient ratio and physical and occupational therapies — offered six days a week — as well as the amenities of a private room and restaurant-style dining are reasons the Closer to Home program is a better option.

But most important, patients are close to home and their personal support system. For Mary, this meant being able to have her sister, friends and stepchildren visit.

“Going to Monmouth was a good idea,” Mary said. “Having a private bathroom was important to me and being able to be by myself and just rest was important, too.”

During the week Mary was at OSF Holy Family, the caregivers helped build up her strength and confidence. “The nurses, aides, therapists — everyone was just wonderful,” she said. “They kind of catered to me — it was nice.”

Today, Mary’s recovery is going well. The pain is gone, as is the tingling and numbness in her legs. And with the aid of OSF outpatient therapists coming to her home, unassisted walking will be her next achievement.

Mary wishes she was recovering faster, but knows she needs to bide her time, as her type of rehabilitation can take several months. “I tend to be a little impatient,” she said. “I told Dr. Fassett, ‘I just want to dance with my son at his wedding reception’ — and I think I’ll get there.”

Last Updated: January 19, 2022

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About Author: Lisa Coon

Lisa Coon is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since August 2016.  A Peoria native, she is a graduate of Bradley University with a degree in journalism. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at several newspapers in Iowa and Illinois.

She lives in Groveland with her husband and son. In her free time she likes to cook, bake and read. She freely admits that reality TV is a weakness, and she lives by the quote, “The beach is good for the soul.”

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Categories: Brain & Spine, Patient Stories, Physical Therapy