Healthwatch 16: Helping Patients by Increasing Mobility

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Medical professionals say there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that keeping a patient lying down for a prolonged period after surgery is detrimental to their eventual outcome.

Geisinger Health System has been trying to get surgical patients up and moving, and they've just expanded a program at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center to do it.

Bill recently had a cardiac issue and ended up at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center. He gets his fair share of rest now that he's recovering, but his nurses and physical therapists wanted to get him back on his feet and moving as soon as possible.

"There's been a lot of research that the sooner you get up and moving, the better your outcomes are," said Dr. Michael Dimare

Dr. Dimare is the manager of rehabilitation services at the hospital. He explained the mobility program initially started in the ICU in 2016. It worked so well, they expanded it.

"We officially launched our sneaker program in April of 2018 in all of our medical-surgical units, in all floors in the hospital," Dr. Dimare said.

More recently, officials have taken steps to keep the program fun and engaging.

Each month, they award the Golden Sneaker trophy to the unit that has the most documented feet of mobility. And they hand out t-shirts to Geisinger Health Plan Gold members, a way of getting them to perform daily routines like getting dressed.

That may sound minor, but nurse leader Nancy Gattuso explains why, after an evaluation from a physical therapist first, it's so critical to get moving.

"The less chance of developing post-op pneumonia, better aeration of the lungs, and blood clots are greatly reduced with mobilization," Gattuso said.

She says early walking after a procedure also improves circulation, strengthens bones and muscles, and greatly reduces the risk of bedsores.

And in a statistic they've been able to track, there's been an increase in patients going straight home from their time here.

"We've increased patient discharges by about 11 percent, which is 2,000 patients a year, going home instead of a rehab facility after discharge from the hospital."

Officials say the mobility program has been so successful at Geisinger Wyoming Valley, there are now plans to expand it to other hospitals in the system.

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