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LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes

Side-by-side image of Melvin Clarke in therapy and Melvin Clarke smiling, holding his grandchild, after completing therapy

Testimonial: LifeBrite’s Swing-bed Program a Lifesaver

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At age 85, Melvin Clarke kept a schedule that would challenge someone 30 years younger. He push-mowed yards for his neighbors, visited with those who were less mobile, attended church several times a week, and cared for his wife.

In spring 2017, he fell while stepping on a fireplace hearth to reset a clock for Daylight Savings Time. He hit his head, but he was still lucid and walked to the ambulance, his daughter Amy Dezarn recalled.

Clarke was admitted to Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.  He soon fell into a coma due to a brain bleed. Doctors didn’t expect him to survive. But he woke up 15 days later, paralyzed on his left side, in need of rehabilitation.

Today, the 88-year-old is back to mowing lawns, going to church, and caring for his wife. Dezarn credits the swing-bed services at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes for her dad’s recovery.

“People need to know that hospital saved my father’s life,” she said.

What are Swing-bed Services?

As a designated critical access hospital (CAH), LifeBrite  must have a maximum of 25 inpatient beds for acute care or swing-bed services. Medicare covers acute care costs for a limited number of days. After that, most patients are encouraged to transfer to swing-bed care.

Swing bed is a Medicare program that allows acute care patients to continue their recovery at a CAH where they can receive nursing and rehabilitative care.

Brooke Johnson-Smith is director of rehab for LifeBrite-Stokes in Danbury, N.C. She says swing bed provides a critical bridge for patients recovering from surgery or illness.

“A lot of patients just aren’t ready to go home yet,” said Johnson-Smith. “We see a lot of geriatric patients at our hospital. When they are treated for pneumonia or COPD(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), three to five days in acute care isn’t long enough for them to regain normal function.”

Not nursing-home services

Many people confuse swing-bed services with nursing-home services. However, they aren’t the same, Johnson-Smith stressed.

“The swing bed program offers short-term rehab where our goal is for patients to be able to return home,” Johnson-Smith said. “Our basic goal is to assist with recovery and regaining skills you need to resume your everyday life.”

Rehab typically includes physical therapy to improve mobility. In addition, it includes occupational therapy to ensure patients regain the skills needed for bathing, dressing, and other daily functional tasks.

Patients receiving treatment at larger area hospitals such as Forsyth, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro can get swing-bed services at affiliates. However, there are benefits to transferring to a smaller facility closer to home, Johnson-Smith says.

“The patient-to-provider ratio is much smaller here — they get one-on-one service. Some larger facilities may provide therapy in groups. We never provide therapy in a group setting,” Johnson-Smith said. 

Perhaps the most meaningful benefit of receiving swing-bed therapy near your home is proximity to your friends and loved ones, she said. Their visits encourage patients to keep pushing to regain the mobility and skills needed to resume their daily activities.

Johnson-Smith noted that Clarke’s daughter and grandson visited him every day during his therapy. Members of his church visited as well.

“Our staff is motivating and uplifting,” she said. “Having family, a close-knit community (nearby) makes a difference.”

Seeing progress daily 

When Clarke left Forsyth, he initially went to a facility near the larger hospital for rehabilitation. At that time, he couldn’t walk, stand, or feed himself.

“He couldn’t do anything,” Dezarn said. 

Clarke started losing weight, and his medications needed regulating. His daughter called LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, where she had once worked as an emergency room technician. Administrator Pam Tillman told her he could receive therapy through the hospital’s swing bed services.

“I was so grateful,” she said.

Dezarn documented her father’s care, taking photos of him every day when she visited.

“We could see the progress in him,” she said. Eventually, he could feed and dress himself. Dr. Kirk Sanders worked to regulate his medications, and Clarke continued making progress. Dezarn says she felt so relieved and reassured by the care he received there.

“It’s the comfort of knowing they are taking care of your loved ones the way you would want,” she said. Eventually, he was able to go home and resume his life. “He is an excellent testament to what rehab can do,” said Johnson-Smith.

To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.

Respiratory therapist holds an oxygen mask with a nebulizer as a coughing patient watches in the background.

Respiratory Therapy: A Key Health Service in Tobacco Country

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In North Carolina, where generations of families farmed and used tobacco, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a common health problem.

“COPD is very prevalent here, especially in Stokes,” said Samantha Freeman-Brown, Director of Respiratory Care at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes.  “Even in my family, it’s been an issue.”

Freeman-Brown comes from a family of tobacco farmers, and she has seen first-hand the effects it can have. Her grandfather died from complications caused by COPD. Her father, who has a master’s in physics, started smoking when he was 18. He didn’t stop until this year despite years of her telling him, “You need to quit smoking.”

Today she helps current and former smokers every day in the respiratory therapy department at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes.

High expectations and low turnovers

Freeman-Brown says she has high expectations for the respiratory care practitioners in her department. All are BLS (basic life support), ACLS ( advanced cardiovascular life support) and PALS (pediatric advanced life support) certified because, in a critical access hospital, you have to be ready to handle just about any situation.

Critical access hospitals (CAH) play a vital role in maintaining access to high-quality health care services in rural communities. A critical access hospital must:

  • Be 35 miles from another hospital
  • Have a 24-hour emergency room that operates seven days a week
  • Have a maximum of 25 inpatient beds for acute care or swing-bed services
  • Maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients

“We are an hour’s drive from other hospitals. So our respiratory therapists have to know their stuff,” said Freeman-Brown. All of her employees have been there for more than five years. They stay, she says, because they enjoy the community aspect of the care they provide.

“We almost always know our patients by name,” she said. Respiratory care is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she added.

Respiratory care for all ages

The respiratory care services provided by LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes are near-identical to those offered in other hospitals. LifeBrite RT services include oxygen therapy, nebulizer treatment, medication education, breathing assessments and emergency treatments to help with pneumonia, asthma and COPD.

“We also do cardiac stress testing, 48-hour cardiac monitors and pulmonary function testing for the diagnosis of COPD,” said Freeman-Brown.

In many cases, getting services from a smaller healthcare provider has benefits. For instance, a larger provider may not be able to schedule a respiratory therapy appointment for several weeks. “But if someone comes into a clinic today, nine times out of ten, we can do testing on the same day,” she said. “Once the testing is complete, we can send the results over immediately, and the patient can go ahead and get treatment.”

Treating COPD

COPD is a long-term, progressive lung disease that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Fifteen to twenty percent of all smokers develop clinically significant COPD, according to Community Care of North Carolina, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting community-based health systems in the state.

Chronic lower respiratory disease, including COPD, is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Freeman-Brown says her department encourages COPD patients to take small steps toward improving their health and comfort. They also teach them the importance of taking shorter, more frequent breaks. 

“We also encourage smoking cessation. Some people who quit a week ago will say they are a nonsmoker. But you aren’t really a nonsmoker until you have gone six months without tobacco,” she said.

Their dedication to providing long-term quality care for their patients has paid off. The department has been awarded the Quality Respiratory Care Award for five consecutive years by the American Association of Respiratory Care. Only 700 out of 5,000 hospitals nationwide meet the criteria.

“For us being this small, it’s a huge accomplishment and a testament to the fact that we can and do provide excellent respiratory care to our patients,” Freeman-Brown said.

. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.

portrait of pam tillman outside lifebrite community of stokes

Meet Pamela Tillman, Administrator of LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes

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Pam Tillman knew she would work in healthcare as a young girl. Her grandfather, who suffered from emphysema, made a big impression on her while she helped care for him.

Pam, who is the hospital administrator for LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, said her grandfather told her she would make a good nurse one day. He had good reason to think that; Pam’s mom, Sandra Priddy, also served as a nurse and then as hospital administrator at the rural hospital, so caregiving was just a way of life for them.

“We always joked that I started nursing as a toddler,” Pam recalled. “I remember one day when I was getting ready to go to nursing school, my mom cut her finger, and I helped dress it. I felt like throwing up, and I wondered if I could do it, but here I am.”

Pam took her first job as a staff nurse at what is now LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes in the early 1980s. She has served as the critical care unit manager, ER unit manager, chief of nursing and now administrator.

Over all the years, she says her favorite part of the job is being able to take care of “our friends, neighbors, and families. We offer full-service healthcare and fill a critical need in the community,” she said.

LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes offers a full range of healthcare services, from pediatric services to acute care to rehab and a nursing home facility. LifeBrite’s primary location in Danbury is designated as a critical access hospital (CAH). Critical access hospitals play a vital role in maintaining access to high-quality health care services in rural communities.

More than an administrator

Pam’s devotion to the hospital and to the community is apparent. She’s a huge cheerleader for the hospital, attending many community and government meetings to talk about what LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes can offer and dispelling misunderstandings.

“There has been a rumor going around since I started that the hospital is going to close. We have never closed and have no intention of closing,” she said.

Even though she is an administrator, Pam still occasionally helps out with patient care, working overnight shifts if the hospital is short-staffed or jumping in if there is an emergency.

Thankful for staff

“We are a rural hospital, so we can’t be everything to everyone, but the things we can do, we do very well,” Pam said. “We are thankful to have a great core group of staff who have remained with the hospital through all the ups and downs and strive to give the best care to our community.”

Swing bed services offered by the hospital, for instance,  make a huge impact in the community and are a point of pride for Pam. A swing bed patient is typically someone who has either had surgery out of town or at LifeBrite and needs to transition to another level of care as they heal and undergo rehabilitation.

“When the patients come in, you see them and their families, and you are able to provide a path for them to follow to get ready to go home,” said Pam. “It’s satisfying to see the patient after two weeks or so, and you know you will be able to send them home ready and able to return to everyday life.”

Providing care from birth until death

When asked if one experience or day stands out in her mind, she recalled a day when she was asked to help out at Stokes County Nursing Home, which is housed in the hospital.

“I was asked to start an IV in a 100-year-old.  As I was finishing up with that, there was a wreck a mile away that involved an infant, and I went back to the ER to help,” she said. The baby was a newborn, and the parents were concerned the baby had been injured.

“I was able to do a head-to-toe assessment of the baby, who was fine,” Pam said. “The experience captured what we do every day:  we have the ability to take care of you from the beginning of life to end of life. It’s full circle, and that’s important.”

To learn more about Lifebrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.  

LifeBrite Hospital Danbury

LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes Offers Full-Service Healthcare

By Uncategorized

LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes’ history of providing excellent healthcare in the Danbury, N.C., area stretches back to 1954. But over the years, the breadth of services and care offered by its clinics and hospital has grown dramatically.

LifeBrite has embarked on a mission to deliver this message to the community: You don’t have to travel 45 minutes away from your home for quality healthcare.

With six locations in Stokes County, LifeBrite offers a full range of healthcare services, from pediatric services to acute care to rehab and nursing home facilities. LifeBrite recently held an open house at its primary location in Danbury, complete with health screenings and tours, to show residents what it can offer in terms of healthcare.

A Critical Access Hospital

LifeBrite’s primary location in Danbury is designated as a critical access hospital (CAH). Critical access hospitals play a vital role in maintaining access to high-quality health care services in rural communities. According to the American Hospital Association, critical access hospitals like LifeBrite provide care to millions of Americans living in vulnerable rural and urban communities. In fact, Congress created the critical access hospital designation in 1997 to help protect and preserve smaller hospitals providing quality healthcare in vulnerable rural and urban areas.

In order to gain CAH designation a hospital must:

  • Be 35 miles from another hospital.
  • Have a 24-hour emergency room that operates seven days a week.
  • Have a maximum of 25 inpatient beds for acute care or swing-bed services.
  • Maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients.

LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes houses multiple clinics and services including:

  • Acute care for illnesses or injuries requiring a short hospital stay and basic nursing, respiratory, laboratory, rehabilitation, and diagnostic services.
  • 24/7 emergency room services to treat those unexpected injuries and ailments.
  • Swing-bed services for patients who no longer require acute care, but still need nursing and rehabilitative care to help them recover.
  • Physical and occupational therapy  as well as respiratory therapy for inpatients and outpatients. Therapy programs are designed to maximize independence and safety following illness, injury, and/or surgery.
  • Stokes County Nursing Home, offering residents quality therapy and care, including free laundry and beauty shop services. The home also offers crafts, movies, bingo, monthly outings, and more.

Surgical Services

In nearby King, LifeBrite operates an outpatient surgery center with surgical specialties in cataract removal, orthopedics, podiatry, gastroenterology, and infertility treatment.

The LifeBrite Medical Center of King also houses radiology and laboratory services, diagnostic imaging, echocardiograms, and vascular imaging.

The laboratory, meanwhile, performs diagnostic blood, serum, and urine testing; collects chain-of-custody drug screens for pre-employment, post-accident, and workers compensation; and offers industrial accounts for area businesses.

Primary Care

LifeBrite offers primary care services, a critical piece in preventive care for all ages, at three locations: LifeBrite Family Medical of Danbury, LifeBrite Pediatric Clinic of Danbury, and LifeBrite Family Medical of Pine Hall.


LifeBrite is more than a hospital; it’s a healthcare facility ready to serve residents in Stokes County in all stages of life. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.