A few steps a day.
That’s all Elsie could walk when she arrived at Saskatoon City Hospital’s 30-bed Convalescent Unit.
“Now I can walk all the way to the dining area and back a couple times a day,” said Elsie Buhr only five days after arriving on the unit.
Her son, Larry Buhr, said he knew his mom’s health was improving when he arrived the day after she was admitted and saw that she was eating.
“She was having a savoury meal – meat, potatoes and beets – and gobbling it down like a starved sailor,” he said affectionately of his mother. “It was really wonderful to see. Then I knew things were improving.”
Elsie with her husband (right) and son (left)
The Convalescent Unit is for patients recovering from surgery or a serious illness who need a bit more time to recover from a hospital stay before heading home. Every morning, patients like Elsie are encouraged to get out of bed, get dressed in their own clothes and have meals in a communal dining area.
“They come here not being able to get out of bed to being able to walk the hallway by themselves just like they would at home,” said Clinical Coordinator Treena Zenner.
While on the unit patients have access to a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, social workers and pharmacists. Two days a week, the multi-disciplinary team meets with patients and their families to talk about the patient’s goals before they leave. Goals range from independently walking to the dining room and back to being able to move from a lying to a sitting position. It also gives patients and their families a chance to ask questions they may have about their care.
“The Convalescent Unit acts as a bridge between acute care and the patient’s home,” said Manager Goran Jelisavac. “It gives our patients the extra time they need to recover, to regain their strength and to return home independently or with any extra help they may need, reducing their risk of re-admission to the hospital.”
“It’s been a good experience,” said Elsie of her time on the unit so far. “I know I’m making progress, because I can do some things I couldn’t do before when I came here. I think it’s helping, making me stronger.”
The unit is also a place where patients can have fun while they get better.
“The patients really enjoy the social aspect of our unit,” said Zenner. “The curling on Tuesdays is always a huge hit. It warms my heart when our patients are exchanging phone numbers with each other before they’re discharged.”
“It’s been lots of fun with these characters!” said one woman as she said her goodbyes to staff and friends she made on the unit before going home, an excited smile lighting up her face.