My Turn: Grateful for Athol Hospital Swing Unit Rehab Center

  • Athol Hospital CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published: 6/14/2021 8:44:40 AM

I have to sing the praises of a hidden treasure in our community. The Athol Hospital Swing Unit Rehab Center is wonderful.

I recently spent two weeks there recovering and learning how to move again after having a hip replaced at Heywood Hospital. I am not new to joint replacement, so I have had rehab before, and from my experiences I am happy to attest that Athol Hospital is the best possible option.

I had a spacious room with a walk-in shower. The staff is friendly, capable, caring and knowledgeable, and everyone went beyond the limits of their jobs. Usually a buzzer for help was answered immediately, and a smiling face appeared within minutes, and busy as they were, all the nurses and CNAs made time to chat and make me feel that I was their only concern. They really helped build my comfort level as I arrived weak and in pain and left feeling on top of the world.

Another unexpected plus: the food was good. Not just “good for hospital food,” but tasty and varied, with an extensive list of substitutes if the chosen menu wasn’t to my liking. The standard menu is good, but there is an option for other main dishes, veggies, soup, sandwiches, etc. I was thrilled to have options for a burger and hot dog for Memorial Day Weekend. One optional meal choice was fish. Don’t even think of the typical dry, overcooked portions often served in larger settings. This meal was one you’d serve proudly at home. I had several fish meals and was delighted with them all.

So much for the amenities. The very best (and most important) aspect of a stay in the rehab unit is the rehabilitation. Monday through Friday, I received two sessions each of physical and occupational therapy from a team of excellent therapists, sometimes alone, and sometimes with a team of two. The repetition and variety of exercises really made a difference in my recovery. I could see progress daily.

The therapy center is a combination gym, kitchen and laundry, with an attached bath. I built my strength with exercises after being shown how to correctly and safely use the walker and other tools I was given. I did my laundry and made toast to learn how to move around from refrigerator to sink to stove to table, while still observing my “hip precautions” and not fully bearing weight on my operative leg. I was instructed how to safely get into and out of bed, and to stand, turn, and sit walk. Eventually I was proud to earn the privilege of getting myself up and around my room, and eventually out into the corridor, without first buzzing for assistance. The morning sessions were followed by a break for lunch and a rest before more work in the afternoon.

I am not going to try to thank all the therapists, nurses, CNAs and even the hospitalists. Everyone was wonderful, right down to the kitchen staff and housekeeping staff. Everyone was kind, caring, competent and personable. I really enjoyed my stay, and thought of it as a learning experience, preparing me to safely go home and care for myself. I was in no hurry to leave. Oh, and the student nurses from Mount Wachusett are wonderful. They are finally able to do their clinical work, and I can attest that they will make fine nurses.

We certainly have a treasure in this rehab unit in our little local hospital. I hope we can support it enough to keep it here in the community. It is the perfect spot to rehab from joint surgery. Thank you, Athol Hospital Rehab Swing Unit!

Maureen Riendeau lives in Athol.

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


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