All posts by Jason Glogau

Bill Hollace

It was a journey that would forever change their lives.

At 4:00 a.m, Barb Hollace took one look at her husband and said, “You’re not OK.” Her husband, 74-year-old Bill Hollace, had been coughing for a couple of days and was not looking good that morning. Barb called an ambulance. Bill was taken to Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley, WA where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. That night, the hospital staff informed Bill that they thought he was having a heart attack, despite the fact that he wasn’t feeling any symptoms. Three days later, while still at Valley Hospital, he was diagnosed with Influenza A. The following morning he had a stroke.

Bill was immediately transferred to Deaconess Medical Center where he underwent surgery. Deaconess and Valley Hospital are both a part of the MultiCare Hospital system. All strokes within the MultiCare system are transferred to Deaconess, which is the only Spokane hospital to have earned the Joint Commission Stroke Certification.

Bill decked out in his Red Sox gear, several years prior to his stroke.

Bill spent the next 50 days at Deaconess in the intensive care unit as he recovered from his multiple health issues. About two weeks into his stay, he was placed on a ventilator due to respiratory failure. The Hollaces received what they described as great care from a dedicated staff.

During Bill’s stay in ICU, there were a lot of conversations about next steps, such as discharging to a skilled nursing facility who could manage a ventilator. But after ongoing conversations between Barb and several ICU nurses, it was suggested that Bill needed to transfer to North Idaho Advanced Care Hospital (NIACH) in Post Falls, Idaho. Although this would mean moving Bill out of their home state, in Barb’s mind, her greater concern was Bill’s care.

Dr. Coulston, Medical Director, Intensive Care Unit at Deaconess also recommended NIACH because of its reputation and high standards. Barb trusted Dr. Coulston with Bill’s life and highly valued his opinion. Ultimately, after looking at the NIACH website and reviewing testimonials, Barb chose to continue Bill’s journey at NIACH. Barb said, “We had to finish his journey well. Nothing less than top-rate care was acceptable. We needed to give Bill the best chance at life.”

Great care is what they got at NIACH, according to Barb. “The very first day that we were at NIACH, we were getting work done,” said Barb. “The trach was downsized; we were working on mobility.”

Barb also commented that “the respiratory therapists at NIACH have the system down. They know when to push. Not too far, but still stretching the envelope. NIACH provided an amazing opportunity for him to get weaned off the ventilator, and step by step getting closer and closer to his recovery.” The Hollaces also found that the medical providers went above and beyond by working consistently through the Easter weekend to secure a pacemaker placement for Bill. The pacemaker was a huge step forward in Bill’s recovery process.

Una Alderman, CEO of NIACH, would wave at Barb when she saw her arrive. “Una made it personal. Everyone there did, from housekeepers to the front desk, we had the best. We received so much encouragement and affirmation along the path.” Bill added, “They made me feel like I could beat this. They were the support right there to encourage and push.”

Barb recalled hearing someone say, “Miracles happen here, all the time.” Bill was named the “Miracle Man” at Deaconess because of his amazing recovery. Barb knew they were in the right place at NIACH.

From the very beginning of this journey, Barb’s belief was that Bill would walk again. At first, Bill wasn’t able to participate as much as he would have liked to with physical therapy, due to the magnitude of his medical issues at the time. The Hollaces, though, were hopeful that Bill would soon be able to participate with therapy in such a way that he could transfer to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest (RHN). RHN is the sister facility to NIACH and sits on the same campus.

To accomplish this, the Hollaces, when medically ready, chose to continue their “Road to Rehab” at Life Care Center in Post Falls (a skilled nursing facility) in hopes of increasing his strength and endurance for admission to RHN. Bill hit a bump in the road during his two weeks at Life Care with a reoccurrence of his pneumonia. “We took a little detour and got to come back to NIACH a second time,” Barb said, “which on one hand was a bummer, but on the other hand, how cool is that! Bill was able to start eating and advancing his diet during that second time, and he was able to do more physical therapy. Then, we got to go to RHN to “polish the diamond” is what I liked to call it.”

According to Barb, coming to RHN was a different experience. “Three hours a day of therapy…kind of like boot camp, huh, Mr. Bill?” she chuckled to her husband. “Coming to RHN was a blessing; they encouraged family members to be there. We learned so much from family involvement and training.” Family members are encouraged to stay there, which Bill found as a great opportunity “to see if we were still compatible.”

Bill remembers the daily, jovial jousting between himself and the RHN therapists. He would say, “Let’s challenge me.” And they would. Bill wanted to be challenged as he didn’t want to get bored. Bill talked about how the therapists at RHN didn’t make him feel like he was part of the masses or only a number. They were there for him and his individualized care. Bill said, “They made fun out of it and that helped the stress back away.”

Barb made this puzzle, filled with memories of their past, to help Bill with his memory during recovery. The butterfly represents the transformation that has occurred and hope for the future.

There were tough moments, too. Barb called them the “breakthrough parts.” There was a “blow up” when he was working with the speech therapist on math, using coins. Bill said, “I need to have a way to measure my progress.” They started recording his progress on a chart on the bathroom door. It was very beneficial for Bill to see his progress. It helped him to understand why he was there and doing what he was doing. Bill felt as though he was a part of the team instead of only doing things that he was told to do.

In preparation for Bill’s discharge to home, Erik, a physical therapist at RHN, went to Bill and Barb’s home to do a home evaluation to see what obstacles Bill might encounter when he returned home with his wife. They realized that going up eight stairs to their second-story apartment was very challenging. It had the potential to be a dangerous situation for both Bill and Barb, as she assisted him up and down the stairs. Erik and Bill returned to the gym to practice on the stairs. Bill was able to discharge to his home with his wife. At first, going from a whole team of caregivers to the two of them at home was a big adjustment.

About a week after discharge, the Hollaces moved to a ground floor apartment that eliminated this high-risk for fall situation. The Hollaces were able to utilize home health physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well, as he adjusted to being home in his own environment. Barb commented that her training time at RHN with Bill was an invaluable resource for their transition to life at home.

Barb recalled that their first stop after leaving RHN was Wendy’s for a hamburger. For months, when Bill was receiving his nutrition via a stomach feeding tube, he often dreamed of having a hamburger. It may have been the best hamburger Bill has ever eaten.

Currently, Bill is using a front-wheeled walker and a four-wheeled walker, when needed. Working with a home health physical therapist, Bill is increasing his stamina and expanding his territory to longer distance walks outside. Some days, the therapists work with Bill to walk in their home without walker assistance for distances up to 200 feet.

The Hollaces renewed their wedding vows in 2012. Their love and support of each other played an important part in Bill’s recovery.

The Hollaces attend church every Sunday. Wednesdays and Saturdays are their adventure days. At first, those days consisted of only driving around, maybe they got something to eat or drink and sat in the parking lot. Bill and Barb tried to do things that wouldn’t overstimulate him as they gradually reintroduced Bill to the world outside the hospital, where he had spent five and a half months. They set goals about when and where they would go and accomplished them one by one.

Bill acknowledged how very scary this process was. He said, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.” Bill served in the United States Marine Corps, and as he described it, that even after his service and everything else, even being fired at by the best, “They did a lot of damage, but they couldn’t do the damage that this little bug did to me.”

Bill expressed his thankfulness, as well, wishing to be able to thank everyone who helped him along the way. He hopes that others will have the same opportunities that he did to help them get better. Barb reaffirmed, “What a great opportunity! There were great people at both facilities that really made this journey just so amazing for us. We felt so supported. What a blessing! We wouldn’t be where we are today, except for all their help.”

Today, the Hollaces look forward to enjoying the spring and summer with more walks outside and time in the park. “Life is precious. We are grateful every day for Bill’s life and his ongoing recovery, “ Barb said with a smile. “The best is yet to come.”

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Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith leaves RHN after completing therapy for learning to balance and walk with his new prosthetic.

Jamie Smith grew up in sunny Southern California. Standing at a height of 6’5” he enjoyed playing high school football and basketball. As Jamie grew into adulthood, he made a living working as a truck driver in the oil fields of West Texas and Colorado. After 25 years, Jamie relocated to Rathdrum, Idaho to be closer to his mother and sister. During that time he developed a love for some lifetime hobbies including golf, fishing and motorcycles.

During this time, Jaimie spent a lot of time climbing up and down from his rig. This earned Jamie bilateral total knee replacements. “It took me 58 years to wear out those joints,” Jaimie said with a chuckle. Unfortunately for Jamie, he required a revision of that first knee replacement and developed a serious infection. That revision would become the second of a frustrating eight surgeries. This resulted in two years of severe pain which left Jamie unable to walk, let alone enjoy the hobbies he loved so much.

Jamie consulted with local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joseph Bowen, and ultimately chose to have an above-the-knee amputation. Now that Jamie was close to his family and had a good support network intact, he felt he could make the decision to amputate with confidence. “One day I am going to be back in my daily game,” Jamie said to himself. “Even though it wasn’t going to happen with my natural limb, I need to get back with the common day, communication, not institutionalized, sitting at home by myself, with no chance to use my humor. I don’t want to say ‘I wish I would have…’.”

After the amputation, Jamie chose to transfer to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest (RHN) in Post Falls, Idaho. He was at RHN for ten days. Jamie worked with the physical and occupational therapists on wheelchair level training and how to safely balance with a front wheeled walker. His goal was to return home and be functional at wheelchair level until he could get his custom prosthetic limb.

Upon admission to RHN, Jamie indicated he was very scared and anxious about falling. But he soon found he was in good hands. “The staff here were very helpful,” Jaime said. “I didn’t have anything to worry about as they made sure I was safe.”

According to Jamie, the staff made sure he was comfortable, too. To accommodate Jaime’s height, the staff got him a larger bed. He said, “I slept like a baby from that day forward.” Jamie also stated that he enjoys being able to eat in the Bistro with the other patients. “The food is good, very good, dependable as there is always a choice. Eating and visiting with the other patients is helpful.” Before Jamie discharged home, RHN case managers/social workers coordinated continued care at home via Panhandle Home Health. They would help Jamie adjust to being home and functioning from a wheelchair and continuing his therapy.

Jamie chose to return to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest once his custom prosthetic limb was ready. He would need to learn how to balance and walk with his prosthetic.

“I’ve been to a few hospitals with this. This has been the BEST hospital I have been to,” Jamie said of RHN. “I have observed other patients in physical therapy and everyone treats them so well. [The therapists] know what they are doing, very professional. They explain WHY they are doing what they are doing, so that I understand.” He also said, “you can tell the therapists, the nurses, the whole staff, they love their jobs. They have been so encouraging and they gave me so much respect. They show all of the patients respect. Even the doctors. Dr. Duba comes in every day to see me. He checks in on me mentally, physically, and addresses it all then.”

“I am so glad that I came in for inpatient rehab. I’m motivated, but not as much as they motivate me here.” He also said, “goal setting is a must. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s easy to fall into a laziness and it’s difficult to get back into working hard, getting back into your surroundings. They make it fun. I don’t think that I would have been as motivated at home, by myself, to do what I have done here. They push me to my goals, and my goal…is to walk out of here!”

Jamie is looking forward to getting back on the golf course. He just wants to swing the club and give his friend a good game. He also says that he is looking forward to getting out on his friend’s brand new fishing boat to do some fishing.

“I have a lot to look forward to,” Jamie added. “It’s gonna be okay.”

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What to Pack for a Hospital Stay

Whether you are a patient preparing for an inpatient hospital stay, or someone who’s loved one unexpectedly finds themselves in a hospital, having the right things for a hospital stay is important. Packing the right items will help make your stay less stressful and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Below you’ll find a summary of suggested items to pack for a hospital stay.

Clothing

  • 5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
  • Undergarments
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
  • Night clothes (gown, robe, pajamas)

Toiletries

  • Soap, if you prefer a certain brand
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash & dentures
  • Comb, brush, shaving supplies & cosmetics
  • Deodorant, lotion, perfume, & aftershave

Miscellaneous

  • Insurance cards & medical information
  • Eyeglasses & hearing aids
  • Incontinence pads (if needed)
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Family pictures
  • Laundry basket or bag

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist

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Understanding Influenza: 5 Facts to Know this Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst. Understanding Influenza – how it’s spread, how to prevent it, and the symptoms of the flu – can help keep you, and your community healthy this winter. Below are five flu facts to know as we enter flu season.

Can a flu shot give me the flu?

The Influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give you the Flu. It takes 2 weeks to build up your immunity, so you can contract the flu before developing the antibodies.

How is the flu spread?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads when you are exposed to an infected person that coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

How can I prevent the flu?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself flu-free! The most important step you can take is to get a flu vaccine each year. You can also help prevent getting the flu by frequently using hand sanitizer or washing your hands. Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Avoid spreading the flu by covering your coughs/sneezes and by staying home if you are sick. Additionally, be sure to keep surfaces in your home clean.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms usually start 1-4 days after exposure and usually come on suddenly. You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after the illness starts. However, you can infect others before you are symptomatic and up to a week after becoming sick.

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include fever, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, sore throat, cough and chills. Seek medical care for any worsening symptoms.

What is the treatment for the flu?

Rest, pain relievers and extra fluids will help to lessen your symptoms. While antibiotics are not effective for the flu, there are prescription antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration. But, they must be started within 48 hours after onset.

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Resources for Caregivers

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” – Rosalyn Carter

Caregivers often hide in plain sight. They make up a substantial portion of the United States population. In the US alone, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers for adults over the age of 65. We tend not to realize the strain put on an individual who cares for a loved one. Instead, we see only the selflessness with which they provide care. Unfortunately, there’s often more going on than we recognize.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, particularly when providing care for a spouse. It’s important to understand and utilize the resources available to you as a caregiver. Here are some great resources for caregivers:

VA Caregiver Support

If you provide care for a veteran, the Veterans Administration has a number of resources available to you. Services offered include mentoring, diagnosis-specific tips and guidance. Additionally, help is available to care for your loved one so that you have time to care for yourself. Many of these services are provided at no cost.

Diagnosis-specific Support Networks

Many organizations offer online support networks for patients and caregivers, focused on specific diagnoses. These support networks typically have segments dedicated to the unique needs of caregivers. Some of the organizations offering these support networks include:

Local Support Groups

Hospitals often host support groups on a variety of topics. Some are diagnosis-specific. Others focus directly on caregivers. It can be quite helpful to connect with individuals who have had similar experiences to yours. Contact your local hospital to find out what support groups they host and when they meet.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

As a caregiver, it’s important not to neglect yourself. The resources above offer support so that you can care for yourself, too. Additionally, you may speak with your healthcare provider for more resources. Remember, taking good care of yourself is part of providing care to another!

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How to Spot a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about one out of every 20 deaths.

As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable. But if someone is suffering a stroke, one of the most important factors is time. Knowing the signs of stroke, and what to do in that situation, could save a person’s life.

All you need to remember is F-A-S-T.

F: Face Drooping

Look at the person’s face. Does one side droop? Do they feel numbness on one side of their face?
Action item: Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm Weakness

Does the person feel numbness or weakness in one arm?
Action item: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to lift both arms? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech Difficulty

Is the person making sense when they speak? Are their words slurred?
Action item: Ask the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Can you understand what they say?

T: Time to Call 9-1-1

If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think someone is having a stroke. Do this even if these symptoms disappear. Time is critical, so it is important to get them to the hospital right away. Be sure to note the time when the symptoms appeared.
Action item: Call 9-1-1!

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3 Tips for Keeping Yourself Flu-Free

It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.

The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.

Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.

Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.

As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.

While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:

  1. Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
  2. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
  3. Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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Physical Therapy vs. Opioids

Who among us hasn’t suffered the nuisance of a minor pain now and then? Usually, we can find quick relief with over-the-counter medications. But for those with chronic pain, stronger painkillers like opioids may be prescribed.

Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids – painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet. The use of these prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999, although there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain Americans report.

In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions. That’s enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

In response to this growing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released opioid prescription guidelines recognizing that opioids are appropriate in certain cases such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in certain acute care situations – if properly dosed. But for other pain management, the CDC recommends non-opioid alternatives such as physical therapy to cope with chronic pain.

Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat long-term pain. Physical therapists can provide evidence-based treatments that help not only treat the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, posture and body mechanics. Strengthening and stretching parts of the body that are affected by pain can decrease the pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

So before agreeing to an opioid prescription for chronic pain, consult with your physician to discuss your options for a non-opioid treatment.

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