A Second Chance
When Lori’s youngest child, Hannah, returned to the Transitional Care Unit (TCU) in March 2008, Lori couldn’t believe the difference six and a half years had made.
“Seeing the transformation on the unit is amazing,” said Lori of the renovated TCU. “It’s bright and homey. It doesn’t look like a hospital and is more technologically advanced.”
When Hannah was born in June 1999, birth-related injuries caused a brain injury that would prevent her from walking, talking or doing anything on her own. Lori took care of Hannah at her Colonial Heights home for 17 months then moved her to the TCU because “she had so many issues that needed prioritizing, and she wasn’t thriving.”
During her first admission, Hannah received a tracheotomy for breathing and began to thrive. In September 2001, after extensive education from TCU staff about how to care for her daughter, Lori moved Hannah home where she stayed until last March.
“You do what you can,” recalled Lori, “but there comes a point when you realize you can’t do it all.” With Lori’s husband on the road for two to three weeks at a time, a 15-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old stepson at home and responsibilities from two jobs, Lori said it was becoming more difficult to keep up with Hannah’s round-the-clock care needs.
Within 24 hours of returning to the TCU, Hannah, who also requires a gastrostomy tube for feeding, had a seizure, which was caught and treated quickly.
“It’s a blessing she’s here,” said Lori, who worried that she wouldn’t have been able to respond as quickly.
A New TCU
In October 2008, the final phase of the Carolyn Bennett Arnold TCU renovation and expansion will be complete with the addition of 14 resident bed spaces, bringing the total number of beds to 47. Construction, which began in June 2007 and was divided into three phases, renovated existing patient living and activity spaces, added space for 23 new beds and enhanced and added nursing and staff space.
New residents will be admitted through a phased admission plan, adding one to three patients per month, said Sharon Darby, RN, NHA, FACHE, Vice President Clinical Operations, Chief Nursing Officer and Long-Term Care Administrator. Staff, including nurses and recreation therapists, also will be hired in phases. Sharon expects 46 beds to be filled by next June, leaving the final bed open to accommodate illness or other isolation issues.
“Children’s Hospital of Richmond is the only freestanding long-term care children’s facility in Virginia,” remarked Sharon, “so the demand for our space far exceeds our capacity.”
New residents will come from acute care hospitals and home care and will be admitted based on how their diagnosis and medical and technology requirements match Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s available space.
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