It's comforting to see a familiar face during a difficult time. That's why people are glad to see Monica Barletta of Hazleton behind the welcome desk at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Hazleton.
Some people remember her from the days when she and her family operated Angela Park. Others know her as a dedicated volunteer who has served her church, the American Cancer Society and her community hospital, where she continues to volunteer after 30 years.
"I enjoy greeting people and wishing patients well," Barletta says, "because I know this hospital is a tremendous asset to our community."
Years ago, Barletta's active lifestyle began taking its toll on her knees. Cortisone shots that once managed the pain eventually became ineffective. "The pain was so severe, I became incapacitated," says Barletta, now age 79. "It was time for surgery."
After undergoing single knee replacement surgery in Allentown, Barletta had a decision to make. "I put my faith in God and asked Him to help me make a decision about where to rehabilitate," she says.
Barletta decided to return to Hazleton to rehabilitate in the hospital she knows so well. Located inside LVH–Hazleton, the Gunderson Center for Inpatient Rehabilitation provides specialized inpatient rehabilitation for patients following an injury, illness or surgery.
"There are many benefits of rehabilitating in a facility that's inside a hospital versus in a freestanding facility," says physical therapist and center program director Jennifer Kaminsky.
Here's what makes the Gunderson Center for Inpatient Rehabilitation unique:
Rehabilitation for multiple conditions
The center provides rehabilitation following joint replacement, heart or organ transplant surgery, a brain or spinal injury, heart attack or stroke, as well as for patients with neurological conditions, multiple sclerosis and congenital conditions.
Teamwork among specialists
Led by physiatrist Jeffrey Perkins, MD, the team is staffed by occupational, physical and speech therapists, registered nurses certified in rehabilitation, a dedicated social worker and other caregivers. They work together closely to provide care that meets each patient’s specific needs.
Patients receive three hours of therapy a day for up to two weeks. Occupational therapists work on activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing. Physical therapists work to restore or increase flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and balance.
The center has a gym where patients exercise, learn to use walking assistive devices and stairs, and more. In the center's kitchen, patients practice cooking, washing clothes and navigating a home environment with a walking device. With a furnished bedroom, living room and bathroom, the center's transitional room is for patients nearing the end of their inpatient rehabilitation. Staying in it gives them confidence to return home.
Availability of medical care
Patients receiving rehabilitation often need ongoing care from a physician. If a patient is recovering from a heart attack, for example, the patient's primary care physician and cardiologist can collaborate to determine what hospital care is needed while the patient continues rehabilitation.
Loved ones are nearby
When local patients travel to a Lehigh Valley Health Network facility in Allentown for specialized care not provided at LVH–Hazleton, they can return to the center to be closer to family and friends as they recover.
The motivation Barletta received from the staff was another valuable part of her rehabilitation. "There were days when I didn't feel like doing anything," she says. "But the staff went above and beyond to give me the care and tools I needed for a successful recovery."
That's why Barletta returned to the center following her second knee replacement surgery. The experience was just as good, with identical results.
Now when Barletta walks the halls of LVH–Hazleton, she has no pain or swelling in her knees. She often visits the center to share her story with patients. Her message: "Rehabilitation isn't easy, but when you have a good team caring for you, you can do it."
Accepting New Patients