Choosing a Ventilator Care Program
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Ventilator Care Program
advanced medical technology and clinical expertise people are
surviving catastrophic illness more often. For patients and their
families this often embarks them on a journey through a medical
system that can be difficult to navigate.
It is common for families to be told while in the hospital that
their loved-one no longer qualifies for an acute level of care. This
can be a very confusing statement when the patient is hooked to a
life support system and may have intravenous and feedings through
other multiple tubes.
My Loved-One Qualify to Stay in the Hospital?
for the most part have become centers to care for people during the
acute phase of their illness. No longer do you go to a hospital and
stay until your recovery is completed.
Once the acute phase of the illness is over and you are considered
“stable” the hospital will refer you to a long-term ventilator
care program. Stability when referring to the ventilator dependent
patients can mean multiple things. It may mean the patient no longer
requires cardiac monitoring, medications given intravenously to
maintain blood pressure, the source of the original illness has been
identified and is resolving, laboratory values have returned to
normal limits or the attempts at weaning from the ventilator have
failed to succeed.
What is a
Long-Term Ventilator Care Program?
ventilator care program is usually a part of a skilled nursing
facility. It has special requirements for staffing and care. It has
doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and the other specialties
needed to provide for your care. Each facility is individual in its
programming, weaning and rehabilitation. Some facilities admit very
complex patients while others focus on the more chronic.
How Do I
Choose a Ventilator Program?
choosing a program for a loved one's recovery you will have to do
some research, ask questions of the programs staff, ask for
statistics and make sure you visit the program. Below is a list of
questions and criteria you can use to measure a ventilator care
:: What programs are available in your area
:: What services do they provide
:: Do board certified pulmonologists see the patients?
:: What is the staffing ratio of professional staff to patient?
:: What are the protocols for ventilator weaning?
:: What services are available to the patient?
:: How often does the attending physician see the patient?
:: What kind of monitoring do the patients receive?
:: Will rehabilitation be provided by physical, occupational and speech
therapy? If so what is the criteria for initiating and termination
:: How often do the patients get out of bed?
:: Does the program have portable ventilators allowing my loved-one
:: How does the program discharge or transfer patients?
:: How did the program rate on state survey?
:: How often is the family formally updated through care conference or
:: Can you speak with other families or patients in the facility?
:: Can you participate in direct care training if you desire?
:: What type of recreation, activity and support programs are provided?
:: Does the program have pet therapy or pet visits?
:: Are there religious services provided? If so is my loved-ones
denomination represented and if so how often are services and visits
:: Can you schedule a tour even during non-traditional business hours?
:: Who are the go-to people should I have any questions once my
loved-one is at the program and when are they accessible?
:: What percentage of the program's patients wean from the ventilator?
:: How long on average does it take the program to wean a patient?
:: How long on average does it take the program to be able to remove
the tracheostomy tube from the patient?
:: What patients are included in the statistics?
:: How many patients speak using valves or other devices?
:: How many patients progress to oral feeding?
:: How many patients obtain their previous level of function?
:: Are the outside grounds and parking clean, well lighted and provide
:: What level of security is provided?
:: Is he program staff pleasant. Do they smile and interact with
patients and with fellow staff
:: Does the staff appear to be attentive to patients needs?
:: Do the patients you see appear well cared for?
:: Are the rooms spacious, bright, clean and free from odors?
:: Are you able to speak with direct care staff on the unit?
:: Are you able to speak with other patients?
Once I Have
Chosen a Ventilator Care Program How is the Patient Transported
facility has accepted the patient the social worker or discharge
planner at the hospital will arrange for transportation. Normally
the patient is transferred via ambulance with paramedic and
sometimes a respiratory therapist to ensure a smooth transition. A
portable ventilator or manual ambu-bag will be utilized to support
the patients breathing during transport. The ambulance is equipped
with the oxygen and suction equipment that may also be necessary.
Once At The
Program What Will My Loved-One Need?
the rehabilitation phase of your loved-one's care has begun you will
need the daily items they would use at home with a few
modifications. You will need to bring regular clothing but since
there is a tracheostomy tube and perhaps a feeding tube a few
helpful tips are shirts or blouses that button or zip allow for the
extra room needed at the neck. Pants such as sweats are usually
found most comfortable. They allow for easy mobility and that is
important during exercise. Shoes or sneakers with a non-skid sole
that are well fitting will be the best for walking and exercising.
Slippers should also have a non-skid sole. Socks should be soft with
elastic top that is not binding. Women may want their make-up case
and men their personal shaver. Glasses and hearing aides are
essential and should be brought with the patient. It is important
that whatever clothing items are brought the facility will need to
label them with the patient’s name. Check with the program as to
what there requirement is. Another hint that will help prevent
frustration and disappointment is to remember that clothing will be
laundered in a commercial manner. High heat water temperatures or
strong detergents and disinfectants may be used for bacterial
control so delicate fabrics and those that shrink should be avoided.
Non-essential jewelry should be left at home. It is probably wise to
have at least a seven-day supply of all clothing items. This allows
for changing of clothing items that become soiled and the lag time
for laundry return. Individual programs can tell you what they
recommend. Personal items that bring comfort such as pictures,
favorite blanket, music or books are encouraged.
Who Do I
Contact if I Have Questions?
admission department will be able to direct your questions to the
right individuals. Once the patient has been admitted the social
worker will be able to direct you to the correct individuals. Ask
for a listing of phone numbers for those directing your loved ones
care this will help alleviate being shuffled from one extension to
the Program Need From Me on the Day of Admission?
need the name address and phone number(s) of an emergency and
primary contact person. At this time the patient (if able) will be
asked who is allowed information about them. Only those specifically
named by the patient will receive information all other family and
friends must get patient updates from those designated. Copies with
the appropriate seals and signatures of any legal documents
directing your care such as a living will, healthcare proxy, power
of attorney or guardianship and do not resuscitate (DNR) paperwork.
Copies of insurance information should be provided if applicable.
The staff should be informed of personal preferences such how your
loved-one wishes to be referred to by name, TV programming, music
choices, normal awake and asleep times to help provide the most
comfortable setting possible. You will be asked to sign admission
agreements and other necessary paperwork. It is usually best to get
the admission paperwork accomplished while the floor staff are
assessing and making the patient comfortable and familiar with their
What Is The
One Thing I Need to Remember?
When in doubt - always ask questions.
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