New unit at Upstate hospital helps seniors who need additional time healing

Aug 21, 2014

Upstate Medical University Hospital’s community campus has added a new unit for older patients who may need a little more time recovering from a hospital stay.

There’s already a waiting list for the new Transitional Care Unit that's on the fifth floor of the former Community General Hospital. Unit nursing director Amy Rottger, says the idea is to help senior patients who, while clinically stable, still need physician oversight and specialized services.

The activity room located in the hospital's Transitional Care Unit.
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO

"Maybe an orthopedic patient that had knee or hip surgery normally would only stay in the hospital for so many days, but they need a little more strengthening and they’re maybe going home to a spouse who has some medical things, so they’d need to be a little stronger to go home," Rottger said.

Rottger also says health insurance often limits the amount of time a patient can stay in the hospital.

“Only so many days are allowed to be as a patient in a hospital for a particular diagnosis," Rottger explained. "And a lot of times that particular population needs a little extra time just to strengthen and heal in order to go home and live in their living environment."

Rottger says the patients will be able to stay up to 20 days in the 20-person unit.

"It’s sub-acute care, so it’s still needing 24-hour nursing care and physician rounding, but it’s a little step down slightly from the in-patient unit.”

There is also a heavy emphasis on education, to help when the patient goes home. The unit doesn’t look like a typical hospital room, with large closets and views of the city skyline. There’s also a large dining and activities room. There are only nine units like this in New York state, and Rottger expects more to come.
"I foresee this becoming something all facilities would like to do," she said. "As our population is aging, it’s a necessity.”