For the first time, a long-term care unit for individuals who must be on ventilators is coming to Acadiana.

The 30-bed, semi-private unit is scheduled to open on June 1 at Camelot Rehabilitation at Magnolia Park in Lafayette. An open house will take place on May 27 for medical professionals, along with a virtual tour for the public.

Currently, there are only a handful of similar units in Louisiana, with most in the New Orleans area or the northern part of the state. The idea to build one in Lafayette started during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, said Meryl Haynes, director of clinical care at CCI.

“We were approached by so many people about having a unit like this here,” Haynes said. “A lot of patients had to be transported out of town because there was nothing to accommodate them in the Lafayette area. The families wanted their loved ones to be able to come back home.”

Haynes said the unit is designed for patients who are stable but must be on a ventilator. The patient must have a tracheostomy that is at least 20 days old to qualify for placement in the unit.

All patients in the unit will have access to a wide variety of services, including respiratory therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, wound care, and more. Dr. Brad Broussard, the head pulmonologist for the unit, said the staff will also work closely with the patient’s other physicians to ensure they receive the most comprehensive care possible.

“They’ll be able to receive multiple services,” Broussard said. “Anytime you have a continuity of care and everyone working together, you get better care. This unit will enable us to provide that to people who have primary physicians in this area.”

Haynes said a full team of medical professionals will be available in the unit at all times. Staff members are also receiving additional training on the best practices to treat patients on ventilators.

“We want to make sure they are equipped to participate in restorative care and provide the best quality of life possible to our patients,” Haynes said. “It’s really a group effort to make sure we are setting patients up for success so that they don’t just have to lay in bed all day.”

Patients will be placed in the unit on an open-ended basis. The expectation is that some will need to be there indefinitely, while others may be able to eventually go home or transition to a different CCI unit based on space availability.

Although visitation rules will be determined by the COVID-19 positivity rate in the local area, officials said they hope to allow family members to visit patients in the unit on a regular basis. Such interactions are often beneficial for everyone involved.

“One of the great opportunities we see in this is that families will be able to visit more frequently, and I think the more family presence that is there, the better it is for patients,” Broussard said. “It’s always difficult when someone suffers a medical malady and then there’s additional difficulty when they have to be taken out of their community and away from their families. This will alleviate that pain for everyone involved.”

Haynes said the new unit is just one way that CCI is striving to pay attention to the needs of the community.

“We’re not afraid to push boundaries to give people the care they deserve,” she said. “When it comes to the idea of a nursing home, a lot of people think of it as a place to live out their days. We want to change that image.”

CCI will accept payments via Medicare, Medicaid, most managed Medicare, commercial insurance and private pay.

For more information on the new ventilator unit, call Meryl Haynes at 337-349-2043, send a fax to 318-641-3766 or email mboudreaux@cci.la.

 

By Amanda McElfresh, amcelfresh@theadvocate.com

This article is brought to you by CCI.