Sentara hospitals focus on making patients more mobile to improve their recovery and maintain muscle tone and balance.

Mobility initiative keeps patients on the move

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Multidisciplinary teams at Sentara Healthcare hospitals are working to ensure that inpatients move at least three times per day.

The mobility initiative grew from a study of nursing literature that indicates better outcomes and shorter lengths of stay for inpatients who move versus those who don’t. Movement can be as simple as range-of-motion exercises for the most infirm patients, to sitting up on the side of the bed, to eating lunch in a chair, to walking down the hall.

“The initiative is based on the patient’s ability to move,” said Kathleen Hardesty, director of acute and post-acute rehabilitation for Sentara Healthcare. “We want to help patients maintain muscle tone and balance to the greatest extent possible, so they’ll be safer when they go home or to rehab.  

The mobility team met with medical staff leadership during planning for the initiative to win approval for the new approach. “The doctors have embraced the concept,” said Phyllis Stoneburner, RN, nurse executive at Sentara Obici Hospital. “We’re excited that they are encouraging patients to move to the extent they are able.”

The initiative is a departure from the long-standing tendency to order bed rest for hospital patients. Progress will be documented daily in patients’ electronic medical records.

“If pain is an issue, we’ll manage that in such a way that they can still move a little each day,” said Peggy Braun, RN, nurse executive at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. “We’ll work with each patient on their individual plan of care for mobility.”