Jane Leahy's story

Jane raising a glass of red wine in a toast.

In the middle of the night, Jane Leahy got up to use the bathroom. The next thing she remembers is waking up on the floor.

The 78-year-old wasn’t sure what happened, but did not seek medical attention. However, as the day went on, she started experiencing shortness of breath.

Jane went to the local emergency room, where tests revealed a collapsed lung. She was placed on an oxygen mask and sent to a larger hospital for surgical placement of a chest tube to drain fluid.

There, doctors discovered Jane had several fractures to her spine and ribs. She fell into respiratory failure and was placed on a ventilator. Several attempts were made to liberate Jane from the machine, but they were unsuccessful.

At that point, her care team recommended Select Specialty Hospital – Columbus East for its experience caring for ventilated patients.

A team of respiratory therapists, pulmonologists, nurses and other physicians created a plan to help Jane breathe independently again.

Respiratory therapists began testing Jane’s readiness to liberate from the ventilator by slowly dropping the machine’s settings, allowing her lungs to do more of the work. The therapy team calmed fears, holding Jane’s hand as she breathed through each adjustment.

Physical and occupational therapists began a mobility program on day one. They moved Jane’s arms and legs to get blood flowing. As she grew stronger, sitting up, rolling over and moving into a chair were incorporated into her therapy sessions.

When Jane was able to liberate from the ventilator, dietitians and speech therapists coordinated care, preparing meals of the proper consistency to slowly move her back to a regular diet.  Speech therapists also used mouth, tongue and jaw exercises to retrain her swallowing reflex.

Nearly two months after her fall and becoming so ill, Jane moved to the next stage of recovery.

She transferred to OhioHealth Rehabilitation Hospital, an inpatient rehabilitation hospital within the Select Medical system, to gain additional strength and independence. Upon admission, Jane needed complete assistance when trying to stand or walk. Critical thinking and personal care activities, such as bathing and dressing, were also a struggle.

Jane’s next team of physical therapists focused on balance, strengthening and gait by having her walk with and without a walker as well as doing some stair training and endurance exercises.

In occupational therapy, Jane went from needing full assistance to only minimal help by discharge. Therapists worked on her standing tolerance, personal care, thinking and vision training.

To address Jane’s cognitive challenges, therapists provided a one-on-one companion and also implemented a behavior skill-building plan.  For example, her speech therapists created a poster board to help identify family members and used a daily log to keep track of activities.

After nearly three weeks at OhioHealth Rehabilitation Hospital, Jane was ready to return home and get back to her life.