News Feb 28, 2022

Patient Education During COVID-19

Patient utilizing telerehab.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly affected us all. The economic and social impact will likely be felt for many years to come. For healthcare providers on the frontline, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude. As an integral part of Baylor Scott & White Health, we work closely with frontline healthcare works and have a strong appreciation for the sacrifices they continue to make during these challenging times.

At Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation, we specialize in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for people who have sustained a brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury and other conditions that require intensive recovery times. Our patients are often admitted for several weeks and work very closely with our therapy and medical teams throughout the day. So when social distancing became the new norm, we had to learn how to adapt fast.

As local and state governments began to put shelter-in-place orders into effect in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, there were many unique challenges that came along with them. For the safety of our patients and staff we implemented a ‘no visitation’ policy. This temporarily cut off a vital support system for our patients. Family is integral to the recovery process, so we turned to digital communications to continue to connect our patients with their families, peer mentors and provide patient education.

Social Distancing and Patient Education

Providing a wide range of education to our patients in group and individual settings is vital in a patient's outcome and adjustment to a life-changing experience. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit our community we were no longer able to provide this education in groups. On top of that, we were unable to have our spinal cord injury (SCI) peer mentors in the building to visit patients – a key component for patients coping with an SCI.

Rallying Around Our Patients

Driven to support our patients, members of our staff including recreation therapists, nurses, wound care specialists, nutrition specialists, occupational therapists and speech therapists at our Dallas rehabilitation hospital came together to record 18 topics for patients affected by spinal cord injury, stroke and diabetes. The videos were then posted online for patients and family to view electronically from their room and for family to watch at home.

The SCI team worked together to download the SCI education classes on tablets that patients could use who did not have personal devices. These tablets were not only used for education topics but also for SCI peer mentor ZOOM visits and vehicle modification conferences to learn about transportation adaptations.

Grant Allen - patient sitting in rehabilitation.

"I used the tablet for multiple reasons. One of the things I used it for and found most beneficial, was peer mentor visits. Being able to talk through different things and even get a truck transfer demo was great to see! I'm glad we were able to work outside the box during COVID pandemic."

- Grant Allen 5/19/20

Jamie Valdez - patient in rehabilitation.

"The technology saves time for everyone where I can do it on my own. I know I can ask my therapists if I have any questions afterwards and the videos explained everything. The peer mentoring was very nice to talk to someone who had been through it. I feel like everything is going to be alright. I appreciate ZOOM contacts where it made me feel better and we are not forgotten. Talking to them made me feel more comfort. I feel like every patient needs to talk to mentors and would benefit."

- Jaime Valdez 5/21/20

What’s Next?

"The world has changed but we can adapt as a treatment team to continue helping our patients the best we can by tapping into technology,” said Lea Goad, Recreational Therapist at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Dallas.

The task seemed overwhelming at first, but our team came together for the benefit of our patients. And when you put the patient first, it’s easy to find ways to get the job done. We recognize this time of uncertainty as a chance to learn and improve. We continue to adapt to the needs of our patients, finding unique ways to provide care, education and resources to our patients.