Swing bed program

Why rehab off-Island when you can do it at MVH?

Many swing bed rooms overlook a rooftop garden or the lagoon. — Susan Safford

Vineyarders are fortunate in that in addition to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, we can draw on specialized medical resources in Boston and on the Cape. Something that not everyone is aware of is that if you go to, say, Boston or Falmouth for a an elective procedure or an admission, you can return to MVH for your ongoing rehab.

MVH is a Critical Access Hospital, a designation given to hospitals in rural or geographically isolated places — there are only three Critical Access Hospitals in the state.

“As a Critical Access Hospital,” Carol Bardwell, chief nurse at MVH, said, “we have the ability to designate any of our acute beds over to a skilled nursing facility (SNF). That’s what’s known as a swing bed program.”

A skilled nursing facility is for someone who, for instance, needs additional skilled nursing care, physical, occupational, or speech therapy. Normally, off-Island this kind of care could be provided by a dedicated nursing home or rehabilitation center, but here on the Vineyard, where such facilities are scarce, the MVH’s critical access designation allows the hospital to provide that higher level of care through the SNF program.

“The difference,” Bardwell said, “is that rather than going to, say, Spaulding for recovery, people can come back here, where they’re closer to friends and family.” Or in cases where patients need the higher levels of rehabilitation provided by Spaulding, they can still return home to recover here afterward.

In addition to being closer to the comforts of home, MVH is a great place to rehab. There are private rooms, many with ocean views, and others that look out onto the rooftop garden where patients can go for fresh air. And everywhere you walk in the hospital, the corridors are lined with a stimulating original art collection, which can be very therapeutic.

“Because we have relatively fewer patients than off-Island SNFs,” Bardwell said, “we have more individualized care than most places. If you were doing rehab in an off-Island facility, you wouldn’t be seeing the same therapist for a whole week. We also have a strong hospitalist program, so you can have the same team of physicians who provide oversight for the duration of your care.”

To set up rehabilitation at MVH, it’s best to arrange it before you go off-Island for your surgery. Your primary care physician can coordinate this with an MVH case manager, or you could set it up with the MVH case manager yourself. You could also have your off-Island case manager contact MVH about reserving a room.

“You could even rehab here if you’re not a year-round Vineyarder,” Bardwell said; “you can still take advantage of the program.” It’s a wonderful way to recover.

Did you know?

  • 95 percent of the swing bed rooms have either water or garden views.
  • Patients can rehab in a swing bed anywhere from a few days to a few months.
  • The most common need for swing beds is for physical and occupational therapy.
  • A Critical Access Hospital has the ability to turn any of its beds over to skilled nursing facilities level — it’s a federal regulation.
  • The MVH case manager can be reached at 508-957-9317.