Senior Communities Welcomes the Rehabilitation Institute to its Skilled Nursing Campuses

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An exciting new approach to rehabilitation now is available at four UPMC Senior Communities skilled nursing facilities, where intensive rehabilitation and physical therapy are helping patients recover and return home more quickly from surgery, accidents, and illness.

Transitional rehabilitation units (TRUs), which are now part of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, have been created at Canterbury Place, Cranberry Place, Heritage Place, and Seneca Place, offering patients expert, short-term rehab and therapy in a welcoming, home-like setting. Extensive renovations have been made at all four facilities to create the new, state-of-the-art units. Long-term residents also are benefiting from additional renovations throughout each facility.

“There once was a time when patients who needed rehabilitation therapy had extended stays in the hospital for care, but that’s no longer the case,” explains Shelly Ciaramella, RN, manager of admissions for UPMC Senior Communities. “The transitional rehabilitation units are transforming care by getting patients back to their homes and lifestyles as quickly as possible — typically within two to four weeks.”

“As health care is evolving, it’s very important for patients to get the most appropriate level of care after they are discharged from the hospital,” says Cara Camiolo Reddy, MD, MMM, medical director for the UPMC Rehabilitation Network. “Through the transitional rehabilitation units, the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute is helping to elevate the already excellent care provided at these skilled nursing facilities by creating new partnerships with all the health care professionals involved in patients’ care — from the point of admission to their return home. That partnership ensures that patients have continuity of care at every stage of their rehabilitation.”

A discharge plan is created for TRU patients the day of their arrival. “It’s a very patient-centered approach to care. Our goal is to marshal all the resources that our patients need, from physical, occupational, and speech therapy, to pain management,” says Ms. Ciaramella. “Our home health services also help patients and their families prepare for the return home.”

UPMC Rehabilitation Institute doctors, who are specialists in rehabilitation medicine, provide ongoing evaluation of TRU patients. “We apply the knowledge and skills we’ve developed in acute rehabilitation care to the skilled nursing setting, making sure that these patients receive the right therapy and medical support as they progress through every stage of rehabilitation,” says Dr. Camiolo Reddy. “Our philosophy is to focus on quality of life and to maximize function as much as possible.”

A medical director and certified nurse practitioner lead the clinical team at each TRU facility, supported by nurses and therapists. In addition, therapists from UPMC Centers for Rehab Services provide direct physical, occupational, and speech therapy at each TRU facility. All TRU staff members receive special rehabilitation training and the opportunity to train with colleagues at other UPMC Rehabilitation Institute locations.

“Our TRU patients have access to the latest treatments and therapies,” says Ms. Ciaramella. “We’ve modeled all services after the high standards of UPMC’s continuum of care.”

And for patients who are not yet ready for intensive rehabilitation offered through the TRU — which generally involves three hours or more each day — UPMC’s skilled nursing facilities also offer a Road to Rehab program. “We’re able to build patient endurance and skills so that they can qualify for a higher level of rehab,” says Ms. Ciaramella.



UPMC Rehabilitation Institute’s

Transitional Rehabilitation Units (TRU)


Total Available Beds: 152

Average Length of Stay: 18 days

Average Patient Age: 83


Cranberry Place

8 private and 18-semi-private rooms


Canterbury Place

17 private rooms (35 additional private rooms to open by January 2016)


Heritage Place

3 private and 10-semi-private rooms


Seneca Place

16 private and 17-semi-private rooms


Intensive, short-term rehabilitation for patients recovering from heart surgery, stroke, hip or knee replacement, injuries incurred in falls and accidents, and more.

The Added Technology of Telemedicine

The newest member of the clinical team at UPMC Senior Communities’ skilled nursing facilities is “Telly,” a customized telemedicine cart that allows for two-way, real-time, interactive communication between a patient and an off-site qualified practitioner, such as a doctor or nurse practitioner.

“With telemedicine, TRU and other skilled nursing patients have timely access to a qualified practitioner during evenings and weekends, when clinicians usually aren’t available on-site,” says Steven Handler, MD, PhD, CMC, chief medical informatics officer, UPMC Community Provider Services, who has helped pioneer the use of telemedicine in long-term care to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.

“With Telly, essential information — such as history, physical exam, vital signs, images, and other test results — can be taken and immediately shared with a qualified practitioner,” says Dr. Handler. “For example, the doctor can see and talk with the nursing team, patient, and family to make a diagnosis, determine whether the patient should go to a hospital, and identify any other needed actions.”

Telemedicine services are now available at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute’s TRU locations at Canterbury Place, Cranberry Place, Heritage Place, and Seneca Place, and will launch at Sugar Creek Place and Sherwood Oaks in October and November respectively.

Shortly after telemedicine was introduced at Cranberry Place in August, a TRU patient recovering from heart surgery started experiencing a rapid heart rate. His family and TRU nurses were concerned, so they called the patient’s doctor, who ordered an EKG. Because the doctor wasn’t in a location where he could read the test results and see the patient, the telemedicine service was called to follow up. A telemedicine assessment was performed by the doctor via videoconference, with the aid of the on-site primary care nurse and a digital stethoscope. “While the test result was abnormal, the resident showed no signs or symptoms of a cardiac event. After the video consultation, the telemedicine doctor called the patient’s wife and primary physician. Together, everyone agreed there was no need for hospitalization,” says Kambria Ernst, RN, MSN, telemedicine workforce project specialist. “In a matter of minutes, telemedicine saved the patient the time and expense of an unnecessary trip to the emergency department — and gave everyone important peace of mind.”

For more information about UPMC Senior Communities skilled nursing facilities, please call 412-688-3900.