Skip to content

How Flexible Care Works For You

When age or illness turn parents into patients and children into caregivers, access to a local hospital with skilled care services shortens recovery times and eases relatives’ minds, too.

For a healthcare provider, part of serving your community is finding ways to make medical care accessible and seamless. West Feliciana Parish Hospital’s inpatient services are designed to do exactly that. WFH is designated as a “critical access hospital.” This is a status granted to eligible rural hospitals. It allows them to provide skilled care and rehabilitation services in addition to the acute care services that people normally receive.

Let’s say a patient comes to the hospital needing “acute services” (short-term treatment for severe injury or illness). But a physician decides he or she needs “skilled services” (specialized nursing care or occupational, speech, or physical therapy). Rather than transferring the patient to a long-term care facility or nursing home, WFH is able to “swing” their bed between providing “acute” or “skilled” services, explains Director of Nursing, Angel Noble. “It’s known in the industry as a Swing Bed Program,” she says.

This is a big deal. The flexibility provided by skilled care services typically decreases the average length of a patient’s time in treatment. This is because it enables them to continue receiving care close to home, rather than being transferred to a long-term care facility farther afield. It also helps to maximize use of available hospital beds and simplifies the billing process. The hospital staff alerts a patient’s insurance of a change in care status ASAP.

St. Francisville native Karla Bringedahl saw firsthand the benefits of flexible care when her 88-year-old father, Howard Varner, was recovering from kidney surgery in April, 2019. “It helps having this available in the community,” says Karla. “Knowing he was up here, I didn’t worry about him as much.” Being in a tight-knit community, Karla and her family knew Howard’s attending nurses and that he was in good hands.

“Being in a small community, we know a lot of our patients as well,” says Angel, who has worked in nursing at WFH for 11 years. “In a way, it’s like caring for your own family. We’ve had people refer to it as the Ritz Carlton,” she laughs.

The hospital’s proximity keeps patients closer to friends and family than if they had to travel to Baton Rouge. “We visited often because we wanted to, but we didn’t have to go and check on him because we knew he was being taken care of,” Karla says.

Patients who utilize skilled care have usually experienced a stroke, or have fallen and had a break. “It takes a little bit longer and it’s a little bit harder for them to recover, so it’s mostly elderly patients that we see,” Angel says. “It always makes us feel better to help our own.”

As people age, health care needs increase and they may need more lab work and imaging. Additionally, primary care and specialty services such as physical therapy (rehabilitation). It’s often adult children who find themselves bringing their parents to and from the doctor. WFH has all of these services right here in the community close to home.

To read Karla and Howard’s experience with WFH’s skilled care services, click here.

Back To Top