Cover Story | Better together
New system provides more care options
The Bankhead family has called Culpeper “home” for more than five decades. Erskine Bankhead, 86, and Pat Bankhead, 81, met in college and got married at Pat’s church in the historic Virginia community in 1957.
Culpeper is the special place where the Bankheads have worked, worshiped, volunteered, raised children, welcomed grandchildren, sang in the church choir and simply enjoyed one another’s company. And in recent years, as Erskine faced several health problems, including diabetic neuropathy, the medical community in Culpeper has been there to provide care and support — close to home.
Access to the right care
Earlier this year, the Bankheads learned firsthand what it really means to receive quality care across the continuum from Novant Health UVA Health System. The organization was formed in January 2016 when Novant Health and UVA Health System partnered to create the new regional Health System.
“Patients throughout the region now have timely access to care when and where they need it with this new partnership,” said Melissa Robson, CEO of Novant Health UVA Health System. “Most medical conditions can easily be treated locally. And on the occasion when a few people need it, we can now send those individuals to UVA Health System for highly specialized care and clinical trials.”
From discovery to recovery
In February, after experiencing a high fever and collapsing on the floor of his home, Erskine was transported by ambulance to the emergency room (ER) at Novant Health UVA Health System Culpeper Medical Center. Tests revealed he had a gallstone blocking his bile duct.
The following morning, he was transported to Novant Health UVA Health System Prince William Medical Center, where he received minimally invasive surgery to remove the gallstone as well as his gallbladder.
Katherine Ayers, the Bankheads’ daughter, was impressed with the medical team assigned to her dad at Prince William Medical Center, which has been recognized for its nursing excellence with Magnet status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Erskine has several chronic medical conditions, which made taking care of him a bit more challenging. When it was time for discharge, the medical team recommended he go to a skilled nursing facility.
There’s no place like home
“I asked, ‘What would be involved if we were to bring my dad home?’” Ayers said. “The help we received about making the decision to come home versus going to the rehab facility was huge for us. The doctor and the case manager gave us all the attention we needed in answering our questions about making the transition.
“The idea of bringing my dad home was very intimidating. He’s not able to walk on his own and he had a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line, so it was very scary for us,” said Ayers. “But we wanted Dad home if we could swing it.”
Hospitalist Zan Zaidi, MD, and case worker Cheryl Wedel sat down with the Bankhead family and went over the details. “We had to get a hospital bed, a lift and a portable toilet delivered,” Ayers said. “We’re very appreciative of them taking the time to explain what we needed to do and setting everything up for us. It made it a seamless transition.”
Erskine was discharged to recuperate at home under the supervision of a home health team. “For several weeks, Continuum Home Health Care visited Erskine in our home to provide the physical therapy he needed to regain his strength and reduce the swelling associated with his neuropathy,” Pat said.
The care continues
Just as things began to get back to normal for the Bankheads, Pat learned she needed cardiac surgery to repair a leaking valve and insert a pacemaker to treat an irregular heartbeat. For her highly specialized surgery, she went to UVA Health System in Charlottesville. “Because I had learned so much about accessing the right care and support, I was able to come straight home from the hospital within days of my open heart surgery,” Pat said. “Continuum Home Health Care sent a nurse and a physical therapist to our home. And now I am attending cardiac rehab in Culpeper.“
“Thanks to great medical care as well as help from our children and friends, we’re both bouncing back to our old selves now.”
– Pat Bankhead