Who is cared for in our special hospital?

Dr. Gary E. Eddey

By Gary E. Eddey, MD

Only a very small percentage of individuals with significant disabling conditions are candidates for admission to Matheny. The medical and treatment needs of our inpatients are extraordinary. More than 2,200 medical and treatment administrations occur daily for our 101 patients, and each patient has an average of 15 diagnoses.

For example, the most common admitting diagnosis to our hospital is cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia. However, if the patient only had this diagnosis, he or she would certainly not be appropriate or qualify for admission. The majority of our inpatients have serious musculoskeletal conditions leading to specialized position needs, highly customized seating and mobility requirements and post operative treatment needs. Our inpatients have moderate to significant forms of dysphagia (swallowing difficulties), necessitating thorough evaluation of head and neck positioning to decrease risk of aspiration. Approximately 90% of our patients have dysarthia (for our patient population that means they are non-verbal).

Respiratory needs are present in 40% of our inpatients, who are cared for by an advanced respiratory therapy department. Matheny has an inpatient pharmacy that enhances patient care due to its inclusion in the interdisciplinary team process. Patient care is dramatically improved due to the immediate delivery of medications, accurate order fulfillment and real time communication among physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

Our hospital has become a national resource for the care of patients with Lesch-Nyhan Disease (LND), a rare but well-known neurological disorder that has an extremely complex medical and behavioral habilitative treatment protocol. Healthcare providers around the United States who serve persons with Lesch-Nyhan Disease know Matheny and call upon Matheny’s clinical staff and its published research for guidance in serving this very complex population.

All of Matheny’s inpatients have significant physical limitations, in addition to their medical complexities, that require constant or close monitoring. Those individuals appropriate for community care, as opposed to special hospital inpatients, may require daily care, but rarely are in need of constant or close monitoring.

(Third in a series of articles by Gary E. Eddey, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Matheny, on the habilitative healthcare model).