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Outreach Focuses on Concussions

Along with all the good work going on inside the Rehab Department, Director Jill Ehlen and the entire staff believe in the importance of community involvement and outreach. An important initiative this fall has been pre-concussion cognitive testing for all middle and high school athletes. “Every athlete takes a 30-minute cognitive test to get a baseline,” explained Nate Greisen, PTA. “If they get a concussion, they take the test again, so we can compare the results.”

The team is hitting it hard and educating both students and their parents to make them aware of the protocols for getting back into the game. The high school’s athletic director has made the testing mandatory for all athletes. Nate adds that, “People are finally understanding that concussions are traumatic head injuries.”

RCH Launches Simultaneous Dispatch

When a patient is experiencing major trauma, time is critical. The minutes it takes to get someone from the scene of an accident or medical emergency can mean the difference between life and death. To help speed the process, Ringgold County Hospital has launched a system called Simultaneous Dispatch. “When Dispatch sends out the ambulance to a scene that has the chance of having major trauma, they will also put the Life Net helicopter on standby,” explained Amy Shields AEMT, CPhT. “When we put the helicopter on standby right away, they have time to do all the safety checks, weather checks, and everything they need to do before they can take off. They get this done while the ambulance is responding.” EMS is trained to assess patients. When they arrive on the scene, they will do a quick assessment and then let dispatch know if the helicopter is needed or not. Although a helicopter is not required for every situation, having it on standby and ready to go saves precious minutes when it is required. Amy continued, “From a medical standpoint, it gets patients to the most appropriate facility faster. If you have a trauma patient with serious or multiple injuries that require surgery or other services not available here at Ringgold County Hospital, it gets them where they need to go faster.”

Calling the helicopter while the ambulance is being dispatched is now an automatic process. It’s just one more way the medical professionals at Ringgold County Hospital are improving patient services and saving lives.

Activity Assistant Joins RCH Team

Marj Comer, CNA

Marj Comer is the new Activity Assistant for Ringgold County Hospital. A Certified Nursing Assistant, Marj has more than 30 years of experience working with patients in nursing homes, at their homes, and in hospice care. She started at RCH on June 19 and is excited about her new position. She’s currently fulfilling her CNA responsibilities and assisting nurses with both acute and skilled care patients. “We’ve been so busy! We’re still in the planning stages for my role as Activity Assistant.” Once her job takes shape, she’ll be caring for a wide variety of patients who need different levels of care. “They’re here from a week to four or five weeks,” she explained. “I’ll get to know them and will provide daily activities. We’ll spend time one-on one. We might go for a walk outside, do a puzzle, or listen to music, for example. We’ll actually have a calendar set up for them before they get here!”

Molly Kayser, RN, Nurse Manager adds that the nursing staff at RCH has been working on creating activities for their patients, and when they approached Marj, they knew they’d found the perfect person for the job. “Everyone had seen her work. She’s really able to connect and build relationships with patients. They’re here with us for a while, and it’s important.” Marj admits that it’s her favorite part of the job. “I enjoy working with people! It’s personally satisfying. I like to make them feel at home.”

What’s For Dinner?

Malinda Swank, CDM, CFPP (left) and Katie Routh, RD, LD are proud of the restaurant-quality food served at RCH

Ringgold County Hospital patients now can choose what’s for dinner, and lunch, and breakfast! With a new “Room Service” approach to meals, patients can order from a menu, and their selections are delivered to them, just like in a first-class hotel. Dietitian Katie Routh explained that before this change, people in the hospital and their visiting family members were served a pre-planned menu each day and their meals were delivered at a set time. “Now we have a “restaurant” menu. They can choose what they want, and what time they want it delivered.”

The menus were created by the dietary staff in-house. They started from scratch with traditional favorites like roast beef and meat loaf. They added more exotic options like chicken Alfredo and baked salmon while still keeping all the meals as healthy as possible. “Some things are not allowed on cardiac diets or renal diets,” said Katie. “We keep diabetic diets low in carbohydrates. In the process of patients making choices, we’re helping them manage what they eat.”

Implementing the new approach has taken a team effort. The hospital’s dietary, nursing, and medical staff all work together to ensure it runs smoothly. “The timing of meal deliveries needs to be coordinated with medication timing, for example,” said Katie. There’s a significant upside for RCH patients. “It’s one of the few things they can control while they’re hospitalized. People want to feel that they have choices,” she added. Another, perhaps unintended benefit is the amount of food that is no longer wasted.

Katie and her team are getting really good feedback. “We’ve asked patients what they think, and we’re using the suggestions we get. We’re constantly reviewing the menus, tweaking recipes and planning future menu changes. It’s kind of fun!” Patients are weighing in and loving the new approach. “I had to stay for a while at the hospital and I enjoyed the new room service menu!” said a recent patient. “I had something different every day. It was cool to see that I had many choices to choose from on my diet plan. You could order anything at any time of the day.” One lesson learned is that people staying in the hospital want comfort food to make them feel better. The top two most requested menu items are roast beef and meat loaf.

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Financial Assistance Program for Seniors

The Solution Options for Seniors Program (SOS) is now providing financial assistance which can help seniors with an unexpected critical life need, like plumbing, major appliance repair or automobile repair. Click here for more information and download the application.

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