Having spent the better part of more than a year in them, and still a resident of one, you can imagine how glad I was to read about the state of Ohio's physical rehabilitation centers (PRC) recently in the Suburbanite's sister newspaper, Gatehouse Media's Akron Beacon Journal. These medical institutions, designed to get you back on your feet and home safely, are also known as skilled nursing facilities.

As a small local publication, the Suburbanite does not have the facilities, resources nor the learned personnel to do investigative research and report on it accurately as bigger newspapers do. But from first hand experience I certainly am capable of both confirming everything the ABJ article stated and adding to it.

For the most part, I've spent a big portion of the past 15 years rehabbing in PRCs. My biggest complaint has been the food. If these folks ever attempted to open a restaurant and serve the public what they serve patients, they wouldn't last a week. Better yet, let's not be so generous. It's so bad they wouldn't last a day.

Each bed has a call button to signal a nurse or aide whenever they're needed. I've been in some PRCs where it took two and a quarter hours for anyone to answer. That's unacceptable. These places are filled to the brim with senior citizens. If anyone had suffered a heart attack it's highly unlikely they'd survive. If a nurse or nurse's aide can't answer within five minutes, they are jeopardizing the patient and should be dismissed. Five minutes is plenty of time to reach a patient.

Much work also needs to be done in educating some nurses and nurse's aides, mostly the aides, in acting civilized when in the presence of patients. Their sour moods, rudeness and crudeness makes one wonder if they weren't scraped from the bottom of the barrel after all the good ones were gone. After all, if anyone needs cheering, it's the patient, not them. Their job is to help get the patient well. They are not achieving that goal with their moodiness. Having this type of medical personnel on staff challenges their claim to being a “Skilled Nursing Facility.” Instead, they are anything but.

Not every thing is bad about these PRCs. For the most part, I found RNs, LPNs and both physical and occupational therapists to be top notch. In contrast to the run of the mill nurse and aide, they go out of their way to help you. Way out. They cheer you up, helping you in any matter they can. I've seen them help patients get up, washed, dressed and ready for therapy; tasks which their job description probably does not cover.

In none of the PRCs which I've resided could you use your family physician doctor. In essence, you surrender your primary care physician and sometimes, begrudgingly, accept the one they assign. In almost every case, these doctors have no private practice. And in every case, I can understand why. In one PRC, I never saw a doctor. In another, he stopped by every four weeks. In a third case, the first doctor entered my room dressed a slob. He was dirty as if he just came in from working in his yard, his hair needed groomed and he mumbled. He never even listened to my heart; something all doctors do if they want paid. I later found out he didn't want me as a patient. For that I was grateful. I didn't want him either. Instead, they assigned me to a medical physician who, much to my surprise, worked out fine.

Having lived through these experiences, my advice is to check these places out before either you or your loved one is sent there. When you find one to your satisfaction, tell the hospital nurse and make sure that's where they send you. And then get well soon.

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com