How Inpatient Rehab Helped Nancy After Heart Surgery

Nancy was visiting Pittsburgh to attend her daughter’s nursing school graduation when she learned she needed emergency open-heart surgery.

Soon, a four-day trip from her home state of Arizona became a two-month stay.

Thankfully, Nancy says, her time at UPMC made the experience comfortable and uplifting.

Nancy suffered a fainting episode during her Pittsburgh visit. She had cardiac surgery at UPMC Presbyterian to replace her aortic valve and reduce the size of her left ventricle.

After surgery, COVID-19 and other cardiac complications prolonged her stay.

She was able to fight through it all and get strong enough to enter inpatient rehabilitation at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Passavant. She feels grateful for the “professional, personable, and expert care” she got there and during her entire stay at UPMC.

“When I arrived at UPMC Passavant for inpatient rehab, I could barely walk due to being bedridden for about four weeks,” Nancy says.

“I received physical therapy and occupational therapy for more than two weeks and began my recovery. At first, I was wheelchair bound. Soon, I was using a walker, a cane, and then I walked on my own.”

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Taking Back Her Independence

Nancy’s team of physical and occupational therapists helped her reclaim her independence through fun, engaging exercises and games, she says.

She took full advantage of her life skills apartment and in-unit gym to build strength, too.

“The therapists were encouraging, personable, and very knowledgeable,” says Nancy.

“I never felt isolated; they made it very nice. I did my exercises and they made it fun. The atmosphere was pleasant, and the patients were able to socialize with each other. I like to socialize and I’m outgoing, so I really appreciated that.”

Nancy says one of her therapists even made a point to bring her a treat from a nearby Greek Festival, which Nancy could see from her hospital room window.

Care That Goes ‘Above and Beyond’

The nurses and physical therapy aides further enhanced Nancy’s stay at UPMC Passavant, she says.

“The rehab aides and patient care technicians were personable, on time, and efficient,” she says.

“I spoke with some who were planning to further their education in nursing. And the nurses were wonderful. They answered all my questions and taught me techniques for reducing stress.”

After successfully completing her rehab program in September 2023, Nancy was able to return to Arizona to continue leading a fulfilling life.

“My whole experience with UPMC, from beginning to end, was excellent,” Nancy says.

“I’ve had a broken bone before and ended up with therapy. Nowhere did I get the treatment I received at UPMC. It was just above and beyond.”

More about the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Passavant offers expert inpatient rehabilitation for a range of health concerns and injuries, including:

  • General debilitation.
  • Heart and lung conditions.
  • Joint, bone, muscle, tendon, and nerve injuries.
  • Limb loss.
  • Neurological disorders.
  • Stroke.

Care includes visits by expert physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors and skilled physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as:

  • Case management.
  • High-tech equipment like body-weight-supported treadmills.
  • A life skills apartment and in-unit gym for easy access to daily treatment.
  • Support groups.
  • Much more.

Visit the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute website for a full list of locations and contact information.

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient, outpatient, and transitional rehabilitation, as well as outpatient physician services so that care is available to meet the needs of our patients at each phase of the recovery process. Renowned physiatrists from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists, provide individualized care in 12 inpatient units within acute care hospitals and over 80 outpatient locations close to home and work.