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UPHS-Portage offers quality inpatient care

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette The inpatient unit at UPHS – Portage is for patients who need to stay at the hospital for longer-term care or observation. It consists of twenty-five private rooms, like the one pictured, and three intensive care rooms.

If you or someone close to you have ever needed to stay at a hospital longer than an overnight, you have probably experienced an inpatient unit.

UP Health System – Portage maintains an inpatient unit consisting of a 25-bed medical/surgical unit and a three-bed intensive care unit. Rooms in the medical/surgical unit are private rooms with private bathrooms, while the three rooms in the intensive care unit are observable from a central desk that can alert medical staff in the event of a potential emergency.

Patients may end up in the inpatient unit for anywhere from a couple of days to as long as three months for a variety of conditions. Some require additional monitoring or care due following a surgery like a joint replacement. Others may require long-term care due to conditions like infections. Some require observation after an event like a heart attack.

The inpatient unit is managed by Kevin Keranen.

A native of Calumet, Keranen attended nursing school through Gogebic Community College before beginning work at UPHS – Portage in 2010. Since then, he has worked in both the medical/surgical unit and in the ICU before becoming shift manager before being promoted to his current position – Director of Acute Care Services.

“The inpatient unit, the intensive care unit, requires a very advanced skillset,” said Keranen. “Medical/surgical and ICU nurses need to be very familiar with a much wider range of conditions, as they see all ages from infant to geriatric.”

Nurses who work in the inpatient unit require additional certifications in specialized fields like cardiac, trauma, and pediatric life support. This is also significant because UPHS – Portage practices “shared governance.” Shared governance refers to a system in which nurses are more engaged in determining patient care than is traditional. While doctors have more education and experience than nurses, nurses spend more time with the patients, making them invaluable resources.

“All of the staff here on the inpatient unit are really the reason why we are so successful in our quality,” said Keranen. “Everybody here at Portage works so well together as a team. We all appreciate our jobs and out coworkers and everyone is just so committed to providing compassion and care.”

One of the inpatient unit’s expert nurses is Lisa Kibler, who started at UPHS – Portage this summer after graduating from a nursing school in Minnesota.

“Portage is a good fit for me because it’s very community oriented,” said Kibler. “It makes healthcare seem more accessible. I like that connection.”

Having an inpatient unit allows UPHS – Portage to allocate resources in a way that helps all of the patients at the hospital get quality care in a timely manner, whether they are in the inpatient unit or not.

“The patients that are currently in the hospital are a lot more sick and need a lot more care than they used to because they didn’t always have these outpatient resources or transitional care facilities that we have now,” said Kibbler.

Some patients who are not ready to return home following their inpatient stay may spend some time in one of these outpatient or transitional care facilities like a nursing home or a short-term rehab facility. However, more and more patients are able to return home following their stay at the inpatient care unit because of improved and more available in-home care options. For still other patients, the inpatient care unit at UPHS – Portage has what is called a “swingbed” program.

“We can take care of patients for a more extended period of time once they become post-acute,” said Keranen. “The services for patients in that swingbed status are mostly rehab-related but also if they have more acute nursing needs like if they have a feeding tube or a breathing tube or something like that that requires skilled nursing care.”

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