BANDON — Sometimes recovery from surgery, an accident or illness takes longer than a typical hospital stay. But going home may not be a viable option for people who no longer need acute care, but need to be monitored regularly and undergo rehabilitation.

That's where swing bed programs come in. They are typically a unit in a hospital that allows patients who were treated there or elsewhere to continue their stay and mid-level care as they transition into being able to return home or to a long-term skilled nursing facility. 

The Southern Coos Hospital & Health Center Swing Bed Program fills such a need for Bandon residents and others in the South Coast community. The program has grown by 150 percent in the past two years, with 85 percent of that growth in the past two months. The hospital has an average of 10-12 swing bed patients each month and a goal of six-seven average per day. When possible, swing bed patients are in a room by themselves for added privacy.

Registered nurse Penney Casperson, BSN, has been a case manager and swing bed coordinator at Southern Coos Hospital for about two months. She works closely with physicians and other nurses, as well as activities coordinator Ardis Rock, CNA, to coordinate patient care for those who need an extended stay. 

Patients typically spend about an average of eight to nine days in the program. It's a balance between what their needs are and what their insurance will pay. While there, Casperson and other medical professionals work out an individualized plan for their recovery. Between physical therapy twice a day, occupational therapy and nurse and physician consultations, a patient has several hours of down time each day. That's where Casperson and Rock come in.

"To have a successful rehabilitation, it's best to treat mind, body and soul," Casperson said.

Not all swing bed patients are mobile, but if they can move or get around in a wheelchair, the hospital has equipment to help, such as their new aerobic strengthening machine, stairs, bands, balls and other exercises. Sometimes a patient just wants to do puzzles, color or listen to music.

Patients are encouraged to get out of their rooms as much as possible in between other coordinated care. If appropriate, patients are even taken outside for a walk along the park-like grounds of the Southern Coos Hospital & Health Center campus. Every patient room at the hospital also has a view of a manicured lawn that ends in a wooded area. Deer, squirrels, cats and many birds are easily viewed, which adds to a calming and peaceful setting to aid in recovery.

"We are pleased to be able to offer the swing bed program at Southern Coos Hospital," said CEO Amy Fine. "The program allows community members a place to heal and recover before returning to their homes after being hospitalized for three days. Many times patients come to the program after an inpatient stay or surgery as far away as Portland or Springfield. The program allows people to be cared for in their own community where friends and family can easily visit them while they recover."

Individuals stay as long as they are improving under their cooperative care plan. A plan includes specific goals the patient needs to meet with the ultimate outcome of going home, to a relative's, or to a long-term care facility. Casperson helps coordinate each patient's needs from arrival to discharge, including facilitating a viable and fiscally responsible plan for when they leave the hospital. 

Rock and Casperson worked together at the hospital prior to taking charge of the swing bed program two months ago. 

"Now we're partners in crime," Casperson joked. "I call her the Mayor because she's been here so long she knows everyone in the community. Everybody loves her. She just has this amazing relationship with patients that's over the top."

Casperson has been in the area for about eight months, moving from Redding, Calif. where she was a certified case manager at an acute care hospital. Rock has been with Southern Coos for 15 years, then at Coquille Valley Hospital for three years and returned to Southern Coos about nine months ago. She's lived in Bandon for more than 30 years.

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While the medical staff takes care of physical needs, Rock gets to know each patient's individual care needs, which Casperson said is invaluable. 

"One woman adored coloring, so we got her new colored pencils and we watched her flourish," Casperson said. "We had another patient we were told was non-verbal, but Ardis brought him out of his shell and he was always calling out for her." 

Rock added that people get bored being in the hospital for an extended stay and that's where the cart and her services are helpful. 

"We get to find out a lot about them," Rock said. 

To add to their comfort, patients receive a lap quilt handmade by admitting clerk Janelle Jones, who makes them with her daughter and donates them to the hospital. 

"They're filled with love because we have fun and love making them," Jones said.

"We want them to be comfortable and feel like they're at home, because they are, they're part of our family," she added. 

While Southern Coos has had a swing bed program for many years, first founded at the old hospital under long-term employee Lauren Paquet, it has been infused with new life in the past few months.

New Certified Nursing Director Debbie Ellis ran the swing bed program previously but wasn't able to implement all of her many ideas. Now, her enthusiasm for the program and support of Casperson and Rock's ideas have helped propel it forward.

"The biggest draw to the program is the quality of attention and care, which has made people actually like being here and word of mouth spreads, so others are coming," Casperson said. 

LaRene Flener recently spent more than two weeks in the swing bed program. Her experience was a positive one.

"It's a great group here," Flener said. "They are tremendous people with lots of knowledge and excellent care." 

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Bandon Western World Editor Amy Moss Strong can be reached at 541-347-2423, ext. 305, or by email at amy.moss-strong@theworldlink.com. Follow Bandon Western World on Facebook.