While some hospitals were forced to close their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, rehabilitation hospitals such as, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Arlington, remained opened. That’s because after a stroke or other life-changing illness or injury, patients need the therapy and round-the-clock nursing care these hospitals provide to return to their independence, said Jennifer Hinds, director of therapy operations at Encompass Health Arlington.
While some of the protocols and policies have been enhanced to protect patients and employees, Hinds notes that the hospital remains dedicated to providing a higher level of therapy care to get their patients back to those activities that matter most.
“Of course there is heightened awareness of PPE protocols and visitor restrictions, but from a therapy perspective we are just as focused on returning patients to independence as we were before COVID-19,” Hinds said. “In a way, it is a comfort to come to work, because while the outside world feels very different right now and overwhelming at times, at work we are doing what we always do—focusing on the patients.”
New ways to keep patients and families connected and informed every step of the rehabilitation journey reminds Hines and her coworkers why they pursued a career in healthcare, she said.
“By far the most memorable moment for us was the patient parade,” said Hinds of a drive-by parade the hospital hosted for patients. “More than 60 cars were lined up, decorated with signs and balloons and full of patient families that lined up to see loved ones standing six feet apart outside the hospital.”
At the parade, a 27-year-old traumatic brain injury survivor was crying as he saw his baby for the first time in months. A 97-year-old patient was smiling from ear to ear as her family held up Mother’s Day signs, and nine kids filled the bed of a pickup truck to wave and blow kisses to their grandma.
Hinds has been with Encompass Health for nearly 10 years, and her prior experience includes serving as a multi-site director of rehabilitation for Peoplefirst Rehab, a division of Kindred Healthcare and working as an occupational therapist at Southwestern Medical Center in Lawton, Oklahoma on their rehabilitation and behavioral health units. She graduated from Cameron University in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and then from Texas Woman’s University in 2001 with a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
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