Guillain-Barre (pronounced Ghee-lan Bar-ray) Syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system afflicts only 15 people per million per year in the United States. And of those, only 3% may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack.
"I was told the odds of aquiring GBS again are so small it would be like winning the lottery twice," says Richard Rossi, a dedicated lotto player and victim of the chronic form of GBS. "Some lottery!"
When Mr. Rossi entered Grace Hospital, a long-term acute care hospital which specializes in providing care for patients with highly complex medical conditions, he was battling pneumonia and infections and breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
Grace Hospital's Interdisciplinary Team of physicians and specialists -- in the fields of neurology, critical care medicine, pulmonology, nursing, respiratory therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, clinical pharmacology, and social work -- combined their medical expertise to help Mr. Rossi fight his illness and regain his quality of life.
Through personal perseverance and excellent medical support, Mr. Rossi's condition dramatically improved. He was successfully discharged from Grace Hospital and has returned to his daily activities.
"I wanted to return to my family and continue doing what I enjoy," says Mr. Rossi. "Grace Hospital's integrated approach to my care - and continual communication with my family and me - helped me get where I am today."
Amazingly, his luck continues. He recently sunk a hole-in-one on the golf course. At least this time it is positive luck!
It is a hospital visit he remembers little about, but Daniel Podolny does know that when he left Metro Health Hospital, he was a very sick man and ventilator dependent. As Daniel’s wife, Virginia says, “He had a coronary artery bypass graph and during surgery his heart had to be shocked back into rhythm twice and his body shut down; his kidneys failed, dialysis was required and he was unconscious for four and a half weeks. At that time, I was told that he needed to be moved to a hospital that would be able to give him the care he needed.”
Grace Hospital at Fairview was Virginia’s first choice for her husband because, “It is such a bright, cheery looking place that to me if you are a patient and open your eyes and see you’re in this lovely looking room it does so much more for you to be able to get better. They are also expert at treating extremely sick patients and providing very personal care.” Dr Neal Chadwick, Medical Director of the LTACH, Grace Hospital Long-Term Acute Care Hospital, and a pulmonary specialist describes the difference between an LTACH and ICU as, “An ICU is like a sprint and the LTACH as a marathon. We tend to have a long term approach to patients whereas an ICU has a crisis approach.”
Ventilator weaning is a specialty of Grace Hospital, which employs a different approach, a TIPS protocol. As Chadwick explains, “This is short for Therapist Initiated Patient Specific and what it does is establish a set of parameters to use on these patients. It allows the therapist to wean the patient when we are not even present. They measure volumes, pressures and the way the patient is behaving on the ventilator and the therapist can change the ventilator to fit the patient’s needs. We tend to wean much more quickly than they do in the Intensive Care Unit, where the physician makes changes once a day, because here with the TIPS protocol, we can wean around the clock.” Although Virginia did not initially believe it would be 24 hour weaning, she learned it is. “They work with the patient 24 hours and sometimes they’d wean him down and then they’d see he was having a problem and they would work him back up again so he was not finding it as difficult to breathe. It is excellent care.” Daniel did not even know that he was breathing on his own. “When they shut the ventilator off, they never told me for hours and hours. After twelve hours of breathing on my own, they told me the ventilator was not assisting me. I didn’t even realize it, because they do it so gradually and around the clock.”
When Daniel no longer needed the specialized treatment that Grace Hospital provides, the transition to Fairview Hospital Rehabilitation Unit to continue with physical therapy and nutritional care was easy as Daniel says, “I just had to go down in an elevator to Fairview Hospital, where, over time, I learned to walk and eat. And although I was no longer at Grace Hospital some of the people who worked with me there came to visit.”
“Grace is unique,” according to Daniel, “they explain to the family and patient what is going on. They always come to chat, even when I couldn’t talk back. From the doctors, nurses, therapists, aides and even cleaning staff, everyone shows how much they feel for you by maintaining a positive, encouraging attitude. They sincerely care.”
Though he didn’t know he arrived at Grace Hospital due to the severity of his illness, now that Daniel is well on the road to recovery he wants to visit his caregivers there. “I want to show them what I’ve been able to accomplish through their unique approach. I am their success.”