Rebecca Fredrickson of Eatonville sits on a bench in the Arbor Health—Rehabilitation Services gym located within Morton Hospital. Sipping on a cup of water after her physical therapy, she tells the story of her journey from being completely unable to walk up to today when she walked the distance of the therapy gym with the aid of a cane to ring the bell on the other side.
We’re not telling her age, but we will tell you that she likely had a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous grin on her face when she was born. This one oozes monkey business — and kindness and gratitude.
Rebecca selected Morton Hospital for her Extended-Care Rehab following her two hip-replacement surgeries. She knows post-surgery recovery. She’s been there, done that. She had had both knees replaced and back surgery before getting to the point of needing both hips replaced as well. Therefore, she knew full well that it wouldn’t be any type of in-and-out procedure for the next round of surgeries.
She heard about the great care in Arbor Health’s Rehab Services Department from another Eatonville resident. And on inquiry, learned about the inpatient care available for post-surgery patients, what Arbor Health terms “Extended-Care Rehab” or “Transitional Care Rehab” but is also known in other circles as “skilled nursing” or “swingbed.”
“I did not want to go back to a nursing home. They don’t have PT (physical therapy) there — even though they say they do,” she said with a raised eyebrow and a knowing nod of the head.
Rebecca’s first hip surgery was two days before Thanksgiving 2021 and the second was on February 28. “I stayed here between the two surgeries because I knew I couldn’t take care of myself,” she recalled, noting that she hadn’t walked for three months before the first surgery. In fact, she estimates it had been a couple of years since she’d walked unaided from a cane or walker.
Her hip replacement surgery was performed at Centralia Providence by Dr. Keith Birchard from the Washington Orthopedic Center in Centralia. On discharge, she moved back to Arbor Health, where she stayed one more week before being discharged to home after her second hip. She credits the rehab staff for her ability to do so well on her own. Since then, it’s been twice-weekly outpatient physical therapy.
“I can’t say enough about the PT staff and the (Rehab) administrative staff. Jayme was my cheerleader.” she cited, adding that the administrative staff is always willing to work with her if she must change an appointment.
Rebecca’s playful attitude is infectious. She said the therapists became competitive with each other as another way to encourage her. They would say things like, “You walked so far for (another therapist). You have to walk even farther for me.” So, she would.
She compliments the PT staff for continually evaluating her, re-evaluating and changing her exercise program to match. “They kept changing it. Whenever I reached a goal that they had set, they changed the exercise. The treatment wasn’t redundant like I had experienced before with other physical therapists.”
She told of the head of the hospital’s dietary department coming to her room when hearing she was having indigestion and reviewing the menu, making adjustments to suit her tastes. Rebecca said she came in every three days after that. “They worked with me,” she said, giving the example of her not being a fan of gravy, so when the breakfast was biscuits and gravy, they gave her biscuits with butter and jam — which she loved. “And their cookies are to die for,” she said with a laugh.
She also appreciated the nursing staff, naming certified nursing assistants Diane, Taylor and Shelby on days and Sara and Lana on nights. “Karli in occupational therapy is great, too,” she said.
Rebecca recalled housekeeper Doris who used to fish out the dropped M&M under her bed (gifts from her son), and Darla, a nightshift registered nurse (RN), who took special care of her. “I’d like to adopt her,” Rebecca said.
She told of Vern, a night shift RN, coming in to introduce himself to her, calling her “Mrs. Fredrickson.” She said she motioned him into her room the following night and told him, “You can call me ‘Mrs. Fredrickson’, if you want, that is my name. But you could also call me Becky, Rebecca or, as Darla calls me, ‘Becca.’” He decided on “Becca,” she said with a grin.
Rebecca said she recently saw Registered Nurse Ashley, who she hadn’t seen since she was discharged. She said Ashley was thrilled to see how well she was doing and did a double take to recognize her. “I don’t recognize them in street clothes, and they don’t recognize me upright,” she said in good humor.
By the time she was released to go home, Rebecca had spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and her son’s 40th birthday in Morton Hospital. Because of the pandemic, the facility was not allowing visitors into the patient wing during those months, but because she was there for so long, her doctor arranged for her son to be able to come into the waiting room in the evening once a week to visit with her. It made all the difference.
Rebecca is continuing her twice-weekly physical therapy. Sometimes she’s in the therapy pool, and sometimes she works in the therapy gym. She credits the staff for her making the strides she’s made. “They were just as good at inpatient care as in outpatient care. I got the same great individual care as an inpatient,” she said. “The only difference is that I am coming here (as an outpatient) rather than rolling down the hall in a wheelchair. They are dedicated to getting me the best I can be.
“It’s the way they work with you that makes the difference,” Rebecca said. “They actually care about my progress.”