New cardiac unit provides bridge between hospital and home


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN FISHER and video editor ROB DIAZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 15 at 5:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The first state-of-the-art skilled-nursing cardiac transition unit in Austin is now open. 

At a time when Medicare rules are changing for hospitals, the Stonebriar Nursing and Rehabilitation Center now provides critical care at a critical time.  

Royal Masset gets in some physical therapy at the new cardiac transition unit at the Stonebriar Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in South Austin. Masset says his high blood pressure makes him very aware of his own mortality.

"I could die at any moment," he said.

Doctors and nurses at Stonebriar say the goal of the cardiac transition unit is to provide a bridge between hospital and home.

"Our biggest problem right now is the risk of re-admissions," said Jonathan Scheinberg, M.D., the cardiologist overseeing the new unit at Stonebriar. "We have patients being discharged from the hospital with significant diagnosis of heart failure, coronary artery disease, abnormal heart rhythms. They're getting discharged. They're going home and within 30 days they're be re-admitted to the same hospital back to where they were discharged."

Scheinberg says that's an even bigger issue now that Medicare has started penalizing hospitals for re-admissions.

"So there's been a lot of effort to keep these people out of the hospital," said Scheinberg. "The best way to do that is to have a continuum of care, so the patients get discharged with a cardiac diagnosis.  They go to a nursing facility that has the skill, the equipment and the training to keep them healthy."

"This is one of the two wings that we have," said Linda Villarreal, the Stonebriar Cardiac Unit Manager. "We have 14 individual beds."  

Villarreal is the cardiac unit manager where all nurses are certified in advanced cranial life support.  

"I came from a major hospital here in town on a telemetry unit," she said. "For years I just felt that we needed a place for those patients that were a little too sick to go home but not quite sick enough to stay in a hospital. A place where they could still get expert care. It's kind of the in between facility.  Here's it's more of a home like environment."  

More like home with expert care and its just two reasons why residents here say they now have more peace of mind.

"It means I wouldn't really have to go to the hospital," said Ronnie Miller. "I could be treated's like home."

"It's using the highest technology to fight save my life," said Masset.

The Stonebriar Cardiac Transition Unit has been up and running for two months. The official grand opening is set for Thursday.

Click here to visit Stonebriar Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.


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