September 4, 2014

Stallworth debuts hemodialysis service for rehab patients

Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital (VSRH) is now offering hemodialysis for its patients, eliminating the need to transport them off site for treatment.

In the new hemodialysis area at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital are, from left, Karen Lasher, M.S., CRRN, Rachel Fissell, M.D., and Jeff Johns, M.D. (photo by Steve Green)

Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital (VSRH) is now offering hemodialysis for its patients, eliminating the need to transport them off site for treatment.

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Division of Nephrology are collaborating to offer this service to patients who are undergoing therapy at VSRH yet need to continue to receive hemodialysis.

Previously, patients had to be transported from Stallworth, which is located at 2201 Children’s Way, to the Village at Vanderbilt. Often their rehabilitation schedule, which can include physical, occupational and speech therapy, had to be interrupted to make the trip and work around the schedule that an outpatient dialysis center has to maintain.

Now, there are two hemodialysis chairs available on the third floor of VSRH dedicated to patients undergoing therapy there. The two chairs will accommodate four inpatients requiring hemodialysis.

At VSRH patients are required to get three hours of therapy five days a week or 15 hours of therapy over seven days. Often patients on hemodialysis are so sick that it’s hard for them to do three hours of rehabilitation therapy at a time, so they spread it over the seven-day period. Hemodialysis takes anywhere from three-six hours a day, three days a week.

“It impacts the amount of time that patients are available for their therapy, which is really the focus of being at acute rehab,” said Scott Peterson, VSRH associate administrator. “We’ve been thinking for years of bringing the dialysis chairs here in house.”

Patients treated at VSRH include those who have suffered a stroke, amputations, brain injury, hip fractures, trauma and neurological and orthopedic injuries and conditions.

“We can set their schedules, which gives patients the time to have the therapy they require without overwhelming them. We no longer have the transportation issue, which ate up a lot of time. The patients can stay close to their nurses and physician. Any time you can keep patients in the building there is less opportunity for injury. For the patient it’s less taxing than moving around,” Peterson said.

The physical space is ready now, and patients might begin receiving treatment as early as next week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the afternoon and evening.

“It’s a beautiful place for patients to receive dialysis treatments, with plenty of space and large windows that look outside. Our team is looking forward to providing dialysis treatments on a schedule that supports the crucial rehabilitation work that patients at Stallworth are doing,” said

Rachel Fissell, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology.
Jeff Johns, M.D., medical director of VSRH, noted that the ability to offer on-site hemodialysis is the result of thoughtful planning and collaboration among VSRH, the Department of PM&R and the Division of Nephrology.

“Having the ability to provide on-site hemodialysis for our patients will improve continuity of care and enhance the ability of these patients to benefit fully from their intensive inpatient rehabilitation program. VSRH and the Department of PM&R are excited about this new clinical partnership with the Division of Nephrology and look forward to integrating Dr. Fissell and her colleagues into our clinical and academic team,” Johns said.