Tennis Elbow

Find relief from tennis elbow pain

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Tennis elbow, called lateral epicondylitis in the scientific field, is a painful condition that many assume comes from just playing tennis. However, tennis elbow affects many people and not only those who play tennis. Tennis elbow is an irritation of tendons that are around the bend of the arm. The muscles around the elbow are overused from having to perform the same motion repeatedly and become weak and stressed. These muscles cause ligaments around the elbow to develop small tears.  

Tennis elbow isn’t just from tennis

Tennis elbow can affect those who work in offices due to constant typing. It can also occur in those who make repetitive motions such as those used in painting and plumbing. Tennis elbow can affect those who play tennis and other racket sports such as golf or pickleball, especially if they play these sports with bad or incorrect forms. 

There are several factors that can play a role in developing tennis elbow. Age is one such favor as tennis elbow often occurs in those who are between 30 and 50 years old. Improper form during the repetitive motion and previous injuries are also factors that can cause tennis elbow to develop. 

Relief from tennis elbow through medical intervention

Tennis elbow is a painful condition, and there are multiple options for those who are looking to find tennis elbow treatment and live a life free of elbow pain. There are several medical treatments for tennis elbow. Ultrasonic tenotomy, which is the process of sucking the damaged tendon out, is a medical procedure for those with especially bad cases of tennis elbow. A doctor inserts a needle into the tendon, and then the ultrasound vibrates the tendon, which causes it to be liquified. From there, the ligament can then be removed. 

Relief from tennis elbow through non-medical intervention

There are also non-medical options available for the treatment of tennis elbow. These options are typically done at home, and you can do them without the supervision of a doctor. 

For starters, you should rest your arm. Tennis elbow is caused by repetitive movement, so taking a break from that activity can help. Ice is another great option. Ice not only reduces the pain, but ice also causes blood vessels to constrict, which helps reduce swelling.  You could also take over the counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin, to help with pain and swelling.

LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes offers relief from tennis elbow through therapy 

The highly trained therapists in the Physical and Occupational Therapy Department at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes work to help reduce pain from tennis elbow. Tennis elbow treatment can vary from person to person depending on the severity of the injury. Our therapists provide education and treatment to provide optimal care to their patients.  

Tennis elbow is a painful condition that can keep you from doing something that you enjoy.  If you would like to try physical therapy for your tennis elbow pain, talk to your doctor today. 

Learn more about LifeBrite Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher. LifeBrite Hospital Group operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. To learn more about what LifeBrite Hospital Group is doing to make healthcare better, visit our homepage.


COVID-19 Preparedness at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes

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COVID-19 Update 3/30/20

Today’s update comes from Dr. Downey with LifeBrite Pediatric Clinic.

Recent information released from the North Carolina Immunization Registry, with backing from the CDC, stressed the importance of newborn and well-child care including vaccination of infants and young children through 24 months of age, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Newborn care and routine childhood vaccinations are considered essential.

LifeBrite Pediatrics is committed to ensuring that these essential well-child visits and immunization appointments are completed in a safe environment for staff, patients, and families. Strategies implemented effective today:

1. Well-child visits will be scheduled during morning hours with sick visits being scheduled during afternoon hours.
2. All appointments will be scheduled so that no time will be spent in the waiting room – patients will go directly to an exam room.
3. Cleaning and sanitization efforts have increased significantly throughout all LifeBrite facilities.

LifeBrite Pediatric Clinic Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday – 8:00am – 5:00pm
Tuesday – 1:00 – 5:00pm
Thursday – Pediatric clinic closed. *Sick visits will be seen at LifeBrite Family Medical of Danbury between 8:00am – 5:00pm

Please call (336) 593-5354 to schedule an appointment or with any specific questions!

Let’s keep our children safe!

COVID-19 UPDATE 3/23/20
Restrictions in place until further notice:

NO visitors are permitted on acute care (hospital) or in the nursing home. We may only allow visitors for compassionate care reasons, such as end of life situations. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Anyone with an appointment in any of the family medical clinics, outpatient departments (PT/OT, Radiology, Laboratory, etc.), and the ER are limited to one accompanying support person.

The hospital cafeteria is closed to all outside visitors.

LifeBrite Family Medical of Danbury and Pine Hall as well as LifeBrite Pediatrics are offering a “virtual visit” option to established patients only for follow up visits. You must not be experiencing any new onset symptoms. Please call the clinic directly for scheduling.
LifeBrite Family Medical Danbury: 336-593-8281
LifeBrite Family Medical Pine Hall: 336-427-3076
LifeBrite Pediatrics: 336-593-5354

We appreciate your cooperation with all of the above guidelines. We remain in close contact with the Stokes County Health Department, Stokes County Board of Health, and Stokes County EMS and will continue to implement any guidance from CMS and CDC.
Stay safe and healthy!

COVID-19 3/17/20

We understand that you may be concerned about COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Hospital Administration and the Management Team at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes and Stokes County Nursing Home would like to reassure you that we are actively monitoring the situation very closely. It is our goal to protect the health and safety of our patients and residents, their families, visitors, and staff during this time.

We are in close contact with the Stokes County Health Department as well as Stokes County EMS. As of today, Monday, March 16th, we have implemented the following restrictions following the guidance of the CDC and our federal and state government:

Stokes County Nursing Home – no visitors or volunteers will be permitted. Visitors may be allowed on a case-by-case basis for compassionate care reasons, such as end of life situations.

LifeBrite Community Hospital – visitation is restricted to immediate family only for acute care and swing patients.

Family Medical Clinics (Danbury and Pine Hall)/Pediatric Clinic/ER – only one person may accompany the patient into the clinic or ER for support purposes.

Cafeteria – closed to outside visitors.

These restrictions will remain in place until further notice with any updates posted on our Facebook page as well as on our website at

We strive to keep all of our facilities as clean as possible. During this time, we have increased our cleaning efforts especially with all common areas, doors, handrails, wheelchairs, etc.

Reminders: If you are sick or not feeling well, keep your distance from others! Contact your family doctor if you develop a cough, fever, or sore throat for instructions on obtaining a proper screening. As always, wash your hands and wash your hands often!

If you require additional information regarding COVID-19 we encourage you to visit and follow the CDC’s guidance on combating this virus.


The Best Exercises for Arthritis Patients | LifeBrite Hospital of Stokes

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Hand and finger exercises to relieve arthritis pain

More than 54 million Americans have arthritis. Arthritis can affect the joints in different areas of the body, causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness. If you suffer from any of these ailments, you might be excited to learn that exercise for arthritis could help to reduce arthritis pain. 

Relieve arthritis pain with exercise

Yoga, pilates, stretching, swimming, and other low impact workouts are all great exercises for arthritis. Exercise helps to reduce pain and limit stiffness and is especially crucial during an arthritis flare-up. Exercising the joints and increasing the muscle strength around the joints is beneficial to relieve arthritis pain naturally, to gain better mobility in the joints, and to reduce stiffness.

A popular form of exercise for arthritis pain is gardening. While many people might consider gardening a hobby more than a workout, the working of the dirt with hands is an excellent exercise for arthritis and one that sees beautiful results for the laborer. 

The best exercise for arthritis is walking

Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help the overall health and mobility of arthritic joints. Walking on a regular basis can loosen stiff joints, leading to less pain and improving the overall quality of life in patients with arthritis. Patients should set a goal for a minimum of 150 minutes of walking each week. 

Hand exercises for arthritis 

Many people experience arthritis pain in their hands. Specific wrist and finger exercises may be beneficial to help combat the pain and stiffness from hand arthritis. 

Wrist exercises

To exercise your wrists, bend them back and forth a few minutes each day. You can also push against a hard surface, such as a wall, flexing your wrists at the same time.

Finger exercises

Our fingers are especially susceptible to stiffness caused by arthritis, and daily activities that use the fingers can help loosen these joints. Splay your fingers across a table and bend up at the joint that connects the fingers to the hand. Do this on each side three to five times a day. Another excellent finger exercise for arthritis is to make your hands into claws, curling them towards your palm and straightening them back out. Repeat up to three times a day to help keep your fingers from becoming stiff.

Overall hand exercises 

We’ve all heard of using a stress ball as a stress reliever, but did you know that it makes a great full-hand exercise for arthritis pain and stiffness too? Squeeze it in each hand ten times each day.

LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes offers therapy to arthritis patients 

LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes offers inpatient and outpatient Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, a beneficial option for those with arthritis. Therapy works to strengthen weakened joints and to reduce pain and inflammation. Our trained therapists work one-on-one to provide treatment and education to our patients, ensuring safety and consistency for optimal care.

The best defense against arthritis pain and stiffness is regular exercise. Find an exercise that you enjoy, such as walking or gardening, and try to spend some time engaging in that activity each day. Or, if you would like to try therapy for arthritis pain-relief, talk to your doctor today. 

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. Learn more about what LifeBrite Laboratories is doing to make healthcare better. 

Woman making a heart with her hands for American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month: have you been screened for heart disease?

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Each January, millions of Americans ring in the New Year with a list of resolutions to focus on for better health. Whether we resolve to get better sleep, exercise more or simply eat better, resolutions have an 80% failure rate.

Although resolutions can be pushed aside, February offers everyone an opportunity to stay engaged in healthy activities. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Since 1964, February has been designated as American Heart Month as a reminder to focus on heart health.

Leading causes of heart disease

The CDC lists high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking as key risk factors for heart disease. The federal agency also lists other contributing factors such as lack of exercise, obesity, and diabetes. In fact, heart disease kills more people with diabetes than any other condition.

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests seven ways to stay ahead of heart disease. Life’s Simple 7, as the guidelines are known, lists basics such as exercise, maintaining a proper weight, and a good diet as key components to heart health. The AHA also advises everyone to avoid tobacco use and to learn about high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.

Heart health takes effort but the best way to stay focused on a healthy lifestyle begins with scheduling your regular checkup. Your primary care doctors can screen for early warning signs of disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes symptoms.

Don’t be a statistic. See your doctor, and fulfill your New Year’s resolutions

In the United States, cardiovascular disease kills one person every 37 seconds. A simple health screening can be the critical first step toward a longer, healthier life. 

If you made a resolution to be healthier this year, focusing on heart health and getting a checkup with your physician is a lifestyle change that could keep you from becoming just another statistic.

With six locations in Stokes County, LifeBrite offers healthcare services to meet a variety of needs within our community. LifeBrite currently operates three primary care facilities for family health including family medical clinics in Danbury and Pine Hall and LifeBrite Pediatric Clinic of Danbury.

distressed woman

Make every day a mental health day: LifeBrite CEO stresses the importance of mental health care

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Each year, calendars are filled with awareness campaigns for things like cancer, heart disease, and many other illnesses. Still, for patients struggling with addictions or mental illnesses such as depression, every day is an awareness day.

LifeBrite CEO Christian Fletcher recently commented on the need to treat mental and behavioral health like any other medical issue. In an interview with ThriveGlobal, he noted the stigma associated with mental health treatment in the United States and expressed hope that “the general public will also begin to understand that mental illness is no more a matter of choice than poor vision, Type 1 diabetes, or a broken bone.”

Taking steps forward in recognition of mental and behavioral health needs

In 2008, President Bush signed the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008, which mandated that insurance companies must treat mental health equally with other illnesses when providing for treatment. While the bill was a significant step forward in recognition of mental and behavioral health needs, access to treatment—especially in rural areas—has often been difficult.

LifeBrite recognizes the need to serve smaller communities and rural areas. It is our main focus as a healthcare provider.

Stokes county was recently listed as a high-risk area for opioid addiction. Of the 412 counties listed as high-risk nationally, 41 were located in North Carolina.

“I think there is a lot more the system and healthcare providers can do to meaningfully address the U.S. opioid epidemic,” said Fletcher in the interview with ThriveGlobal. “More than 16,000 Americans die each year of unintentional opioid overdoses, and with access to genetic testing and precision medicine, providers can now better understand how patients both react to these drugs as well as monitor patient use.”

Precision medicine, like the specialized testing done by LifeBrite Labs, is one way Fletcher sees the company making an impact in opioid treatment. Recognizing biological traits can help doctors prescribe better alternative medications for high-risk patients. Doctors at LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes have participated in research panel discussions on the epidemic and continue to promote mental health awareness throughout the year.

Making mental health care more accessible

Depression is another issue at the cross-section of mental health and general health treatment. In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death in college-age adults and one of the leading causes of death in every age demographic. Yet, access to care is still limited due to a lack of professionals in the field. Access to care can be near impossible to find in many rural areas of the country. Unfortunately, suicide rates in rural areas outpace other parts of the country.

Mental health professionals advise people having suicidal thoughts to call for emergency help or go to the closest emergency room where doctors can help locate proper treatment. LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes is a full-service healthcare facility equipped with emergency care services. The hospital is also a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), which works as part of a statewide network allowing the people of Stokes county access to a wide range of specialists.

In March, there are days set aside for alcohol and drug awareness, and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There are days in September for suicide awareness, but LifeBrite encourages you to make every day a mental health day.

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Laboratories. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.

Three female LifeBrite employees pose for photo during community activity.

LifeBrite in the Community in 2019

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As 2019 comes to a close, the LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes team feels grateful and blessed to serve our community. We want to thank our community partners and recognize the events LifeBrite has participated in this year.

 Through our outreach efforts, we want to ensure residents of Danbury, King, Pine Hall and surrounding areas know about the services provided through our facilities. For instance, LifeBrite in May held an open house at its main hospital campus and invited community members to tour the hospital, learn about the hospital’s history, and meet the staff.

“We had a wonderful turn out of community supporters and other business leaders,” said Brooke Johnson-Smith, Director of Rehab.

Then in September, LifeBrite held a ribbon-cutting at its Pine Hall Community Campus and gave community members a chance to tour the facility and meet the providers.

Here are some other activities we LifeBrite participated in over the past 12 months.

King Chamber of Commerce

In July, LifeBrite hosted Business Before Hours, the chamber’s monthly networking meeting for Chamber of Commerce members and businesses, at its King location.

“We provided breakfast for all attendees and Patsy Hall, one of our surgical nurses, gave a tour of the facility,” said Johnson-Smith.

Eight LifeBrite employees also attended the King Chamber of Commerce’s Business Leaders Banquet to celebrate other business leaders’ achievements within the community.

Ruritan Club

Johnson-Smith attended local Ruritan Club meetings in Pine Hall, Germanton, Rock House, Chestnut Grove, Francisco, Sandy Ridge, and Pinnacle to discuss the services offered at LifeBrite.

LifeBrite provided a meeting space at the hospital for the Ruritan Clubs of Rock House and Francisco. The clubs also received a tour of the hospital facility.

Health fairs and community festivals

LifeBrite participated in employee health fairs at Wieland Copper, UNIFY, and Bridgestone Aircraft Tire. LifeBrite offered free health screenings that include basic vital signs, spirometry, blood glucose, total cholesterol, and grip strength. The hospital staff also provided education on body mechanics and smoking cessation.

LifeBrite also participated in the Senior Health & Wellness Fair in Pilot Mountain, the UHC Member Health Fair in Mount Airy, the Health & Wellness Fair in Germanton, and the Stoneville Senior Health Fair in Stoneville. Also, LifeBrite set up a booth and even sponsored several community festivals.

“Our staff loves to get out and meet the citizens in the community and tell them about our wonderful hospital and clinics!” Johnson-Smith said. “This past year, we have had a presence at the Little Folks Festival, which is a festival for young children and early intervention services. We attended the 8th Grade Career Fair in which 8th-grade youth were able to visit with some of our providers and talk about possible future career choices!”

“We also participated in Meet Me On Main, Riding the Wave to Wellness, the Stokes Stomp, FarmFest, King Fest, BBQ for Books, and Ridge Fest this year,” she said.

Exercise classes and home health presentations

Employees from LifeBrite’s physical and occupational therapy department led a chair-based exercise class at Stokes County Wellness Center on the third Wednesday of each month.

Johnson-Smith also visited local home health agencies in the county, Kindred at Home and Yadkin Valley Home Health, to talk with clinical staff about LifeBrite’s services as well as the benefits of local healthcare.

High school activities

LifeBrite hosted 15 high school students over the summer from Camp Med. The student got a chance to see first-hand what physical and occupational therapists do every day. LifeBrite also supported high school athletics, providing team meals for the North Stokes JV football team as well as the cross country team.

“We were also able to hold a pep rally out front of the hospital to send the North Stokes High School girls softball team off to the State Championship!  It was great fun! We had staff, nursing home residents, swing bed patients, families, and community members outside cheering and holding posters in support of the team,” said Johnson-Smith. 

Holidays and relays

LifeBrite opened the hospital and Stokes County Nursing Home on Halloween to trick-or-treaters. Several LifeBrite employees also took part in the Walnut Cove Christmas Parade on Dec. 14.

In addition, the hospital kicked off its fund-raising efforts for the 2020 American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The resurrected relay team raised more than $700 at a recent bake sale.

We love being able to take care of our friends and neighbors and fill a critical need in our community. 

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Laboratories. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage. 

Female surgeon in foreground with surgical suite in background.

LifeBrite Surgical Services Expanding

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The value of having a hospital nearby that can perform outpatient surgery services can’t be overstated. That’s especially true in rural communities where some people have to drive as much as an hour for outpatient services. Fortunately, residents of Stokes County don’t have to travel out of town for outpatient procedures, thanks to LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes.

The hospital’s Surgical Services Department operates out of a facility in King, N.C., and a wide range of specialists provide surgical services there.

Rebuilding services and trust

It opened in 1989 as a satellite office, and over the years, it has been very busy,” said Pamela Tillman, administrator for LifeBrite Community Hospital.

“It’s important for us to offer that service so members of the community can have elective surgical procedures close to home,” she said. Also, patients can be dropped off and picked up at the door, she said.

In 2016, the satellite location drastically reduced its services when the hospital, under different ownership, filed for bankruptcy.

In 2017, LifeBrite Hospital Group, under the leadership of CEO Christian Fletcher, acquired the hospital. LifeBrite took over $1.3 million in Medicare and Medicaid payment obligations and signing new leases for medical equipment, software, and supplies.

The hospital continues to work to regain the confidence of providers and patients, who were understandably concerned after the 2016 problems, said Tillman. 

Outpatient surgery services expanding

LifeBrite understands the importance of having surgical services in a community and the inconvenience of not being able to get the services you need locally.

When a person travels out of town for a procedure, loved ones may not be able to accompany them. That can increase stress for the patient and family. In addition, having to travel an hour away for a procedure like a breast biopsy alone can be daunting.

That’s why LifeBrite rebuilt its list of surgical providers and even added a few new ones, Tillman said.

For instance, the Surgical Services Department added ENT procedures to its menu of elective outpatient surgery services. Other services include general surgery, podiatry, ophthamology, orthopedics, and gastroenterology. 

The King location includes two fully equipped operating room suites and room for specialty clinics. Recently, the King Chamber of Commerce held its Business Before Hours networking event at the facility, and a surgical nurse gave the attendees a tour.

LifeBrite staff is friendly

A first-time patient at the King facility last month gave the facility the highest rating “very good” across the board.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The staff is excellent,” said Carrie Church. “They were kind, funny, and put me at ease as I was waiting for my surgery. I can’t say enough good things about this staff!”

Brenda Senter, who was a patient in August, said, “This is the friendliest and most efficient staff I have ever seen. I would recommend this facility to anyone.”

To find out more about the services offered through LifeBrite’s Surgical Services Department, call (336) 983-9617 or check out this information

Atlanta-based LifeBrite Hospital Group, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Laboratories, and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.


Sick young woman struggling with a cold.

How to tell if it’s a cold or flu—but get help either way

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Suddenly, you’re tired. Dog tired. Your throat is getting scratchy, and you feel the sniffles coming on. For sure, the cold and flu season is upon us right now. And it’s important to your health, and the health of everyone around you, to recognize the symptoms early. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two because many of the symptoms are similar.

During this flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there have already been as many as 30,000 flu deaths in the United States alone. It’s easy to recognize cold and flu symptoms and important not to ignore them.

So how can I tell if I’ve got a cold or a nasty case of the flu?

One of the most noticeable differences between the cold and the flu is fever. The flu is almost always accompanied by a fever but a cold rarely shares this symptom. Similarly, flu is more likely to give you chills and a headache than a cold. However, a cold is more likely to present symptoms such as a sore throat or runny nose.

Although these symptoms can be distinguishing, they are not absolute indicators of either virus. Both the common cold and the flu are respiratory virus infections and they can share many of the same symptoms even when they are less common. Contrary to popular beliefs, cold weather does not actually cause either illness. However, it can make it easier to contract either of them because people stay indoors more when it is cold where they can come in close contact with other people and their germs.

How to treat colds and flu, and how to prevent them in the first place

The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for everyone over the age of six months—especially people with compromised immune systems. However, it’s important to consult with your primary physician to determine the best vaccine for you or your family or if you are not eligible for the vaccine.

For patients experiencing symptoms, a nasal swab is a fast, painless way to determine whether you have a cold or flu. The test takes a few minutes and your doctor can quickly prescribe the proper treatment for your condition.

Whether you are needing a seasonal flu shot or a checkup to address symptoms you are experiencing, it is important to seek treatment when you first start feeling sick. LifeBrite operates three preventive care clinics in Stokes County to meet the healthcare needs of your family. LifeBrite operates family practices in Danbury and Pine Hall and a pediatric clinic in Danbury, so come in and see us if the sniffles start for you or your family!

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Laboratories. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.

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 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 like LifeBrite, 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.

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Laboratories. 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 at LifeBrite. 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 at LifeBrite, she added.

Respiratory care for all ages at LifeBrite

The respiratory care services provided by LifeBrite 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.

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Laboratories. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.