Inter-Faith rehabilitates patients, and itself

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"They didn't wait for me to buzz, they constantly peeked in. They had me monitored and I had so many people there [taking care of me]," said car accident victim Corrine Wick, about her stay at the rehabilitation center at Inter-Faith Care Center in Carlton. "I was still in danger when I got to Inter-Faith from blood clots, my heart, the aorta and the head injury."

Wick was a patient in the rehabilitation center two years ago, after her car was T-boned in an accident on Highway 33. Due to the severity and number of her injuries, she spent two weeks in intensive care at Hennepin County Medical Center.

"I was healing in 50 different ways," Wick said.

After less than 24 hours at a facility in Duluth her family moved her to Inter-Faith, where she stayed from mid-March until mid-June 2015.

Wick heaped praise on the care she received at Inter-Faith. She was impressed with the amount of monitoring and recording of even the smallest details of her life in the rehabilitation center.

The positive changes to the rehabilitation center that Wick experienced has helped bring Inter-Faith from a struggling facility several years ago to a five-star facility this year. Inter-Faith Care Center is owned by six churches and includes 96 residents in skilled nursing care, 18 apartments for assisted living and 41 apartments for independent senior living, and employs 165 people.

Nursing homes with five stars are considered to have "much above average" quality and nursing homes with one star are considered to have quality "much below average," according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

"Nursing Home Compare" at Medicare.gov allows consumers to compare information about nursing homes. It contains quality of care and staffing information for all 15,000 plus Medicare- and Medicaid-participating nursing homes. The listing for Inter-Faith Care Center breaks down the ratings to five stars for quality measures, four stars each for staffing and RN staffing and three stars for health inspection. The final result was five stars for overall quality at Inter-Faith.

One of the big changes in recent years at Inter-Faith is the rehabilitation provider, Aegis Therapy. There are now registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in charge of rehabilitation residents, according to Inter-Faith Human Resources Director Susan Shold.

"They are organized and professional," said Shold who began working at Inter-Faith three years ago when the changes were first implemented.

Wick will testify to that.

Wick had been told she probably would not be able to walk again because her back was broken. The petite 73-year-old also had seven broken ribs, a fractured skull, a collapsed left lung, a torn aorta, and her hip had been crushed.

"I had been crunched and munched," said Wick.

The rehabilitation staff were concerned about the tiny woman's weight and constantly weighed her, even in her wheelchair. She had lost about 30 pounds after she left Hennepin.

They had her on a vibrating bed in the beginning. The special mattress would vibrate if Wick was not moving enough. The vibrating helped prevent blood clots from forming.

When the time neared for Wick to leave, the staff was very thorough, making sure she would be able to live safely on her own.

"They wanted to know that I could function," said Wick. "I hated the stairs, but they made me lift a leg and go up one or two stairs. They took me on rough surfaces and they trained me in the kitchen. They did it all in stages which allowed me to go home."

Inter-Faith's new administrator, Tim Zwickey, began during the transition time 18 months ago.

One of the reason's Zwickey accepted the position at Inter-Faith was an increase in the state-charged reimbursement back to the facility.

He explained the originally small amount of reimbursement from the state made it very difficult to pay livable wages to employees. Once the increase was implemented, he was able to hire more employees as well as increase the pay scale.

The changes also allowed for Inter-Faith to pay for several people to get their nursing assistant certification at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College with the stipulation that they work at Inter-Faith for a specified amount of time.

"We have a much better core staff now," Shold said enthusiastically. "They really care about the residents."

Wick said her children always felt welcomed and helped with the healing process.
The staff had family members bring in photographs of Wick's home so they could see what challenges she would have to deal with. They told her no sharp knives and no glass dishes when she first moved back home, so her oldest daughter bought her a set of plastic dishes.

The woman who was told she would probably never walk again was taught to use a walker before she was allowed to leave Inter-Faith.

Now Wick is back to her little perpetual motion original self, complete with walking unaided.