Van Matre: Helping Patients Regain a Sense of Normalcy

Through tailored care, a collaborative attitude and lots of encouragement, this rehab hospital offers a guiding light to those who are recovering from serious illness and injury.

Patients at Van Matre Encompass Health Rehabilitation Institute, in Rockford, have access to physical, occupational and speech therapists who can help them to regain function.

No one wakes up thinking “today’s the day I’ll experience a life-changing injury.” But accidents and sudden illnesses are a part of life. If and when such catastrophes happen, Van Matre Encompass Health Rehabilitation Institute, 950 S. Mulford Road in Rockford, is ready to help patients get their lives back.

“Here at Van Matre, most of our patients have just undergone life-changing illnesses or injuries and are looking for us to help them get back to whatever means the most to them,” says Laura McAndrew, director of business development at Van Matre. “So, our team works together with our patients to create a personalized plan and set goals regarding their unique needs.”

Laura McAndrew

For example, McAndrew recalls a recent patient who suffered a stroke.

“He told us that his goal was to get back home to his wife and family. He wanted to watch the remainder of the baseball season before it ended, and I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when he was in the hospital, he had lost a sense of hope for that goal,” McAndrew says. “It was really that his stroke had changed the world that he knew, pretty much overnight. And so, his stay at Van Matre gave him back a sense of normalcy and freedom.

“It’s stories like that, which we hear all the time, that make our jobs feel so satisfying.”

Every patient at Van Matre is guaranteed 3 hours of therapy five days a week. This includes physical, occupational and speech therapy, as needed. Therapy schedules may include group or one-on-one sessions and are based on a patient’s personal needs.

Patients also receive 24-hour care from registered nurses and nursing technicians with rehabilitation-specific training, and rehabilitation physicians check on them at least three times a week.

“We’re proud to serve residents of northern Illinois,” McAndrew says. “We’re a leading provider in inpatient rehabilitation for stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and other neurological and orthopedic conditions.”

The staff at Van Matre encompasses 250 employees, including physicians, dietitians, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, case managers and, of course, a dynamic nursing staff that includes registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nurses who specialize in rehabilitation and are available 24/7. Most patients can expect to stay at Van Matre for a relatively short time, McAndrew says.

“It’s usually a couple of weeks, but it really depends on the needs of the patient. It’s very individualized,” she adds.

At the beginning of a patient’s stay, a care team helps the patient with personal hygiene, getting out of bed, getting dressed and other tasks as needed. As the patient makes progress, they steadily regain the skills needed to take care of themselves.

For the most part, physicians or case managers at local hospitals refer patients directly to Van Matre after they experience a major emergency, such as a stroke, traumatic brain injury or amputation. Van Matre also works with senior living facilities, or “any facilities where patients need our level of care,” McAndrew adds.

However, it’s not uncommon for patients or their loved ones to reach out to Van Matre directly.

“Community members actually know us because we have such a solid reputation,” McAndrew says. “They’ll call us directly and ask what is needed to admit based on the conditions that they or their loved one are experiencing.”

Admission depends on a few factors, including a patient’s condition. Insurance also comes into play. Rehabilitation at Van Matre is covered in full or part by most health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. The institute has contracts with most major insurance companies and is willing to negotiate with other companies, as needed.

“We work directly with insurance companies to ensure every patient’s stay is covered prior to their arriving at Van Matre,” McAndrew says. “When patients call us directly, we’ll certainly help facilitate with them.”

While patients are top priority, the Van Matre staff also keeps the patient’s family in mind. Visiting hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily, and family is encouraged to visit regularly.

“However, we also understand that sometimes it’s difficult to accomplish that,” McAndrew says. “That’s why we have technology to accommodate remote visitation. We can also showcase patient progress during therapy, if that’s requested as well.”

During their stay, patients have access to amenities such as television, telephones, free Wi-Fi, a courtyard, therapy dogs, support groups, interpreter services, translators and more.

Because treatment is so individualized, no two patients at Van Matre receive the exact same care. Each and every person is treated according to their needs, on a time schedule that makes the most sense for them.

“The cross-functional teams that work here together throughout the day make sure that each and every patient gets what they need in order to make steady improvements,” McAndrew says. “I’ve been in health care long enough to tell you that this is unique, and it’s kind of like our secret sauce.

When patients leave Van Matre, their discharge plan may include home exercises, continued work with therapists, a special diet, home medical equipment, follow-up appointments and/or medication. Each patient’s discharge plan is as individualized as their treatment at Van Matre, with a goal for patients to continue their progress. Case managers can help patients connect to resources such as support groups, community organizations, caregiver assistance companies and helpful hotlines to call.

“With the fact that our teammates actually love what they do and believe in our ability to change lives, it’s easy to see why we accomplish what we do for our patients and have the outcomes that we do,” McAndrew says. “Our patient satisfaction, our employee satisfaction – they speak for themselves. I think those are the two main reasons why Van Matre is an excellent choice for inpatient rehab.”