Major Surgery Recovery

After surgery recovery in a traditional hospital, some people are able to go home and continue rehabilitating as an outpatient. Others may require extended care at a long-term acute care hospital to address lasting pain, wound infections, tissue damage, nerve damage, respiratory issues, thromboembolism, bowel obstruction, dysphagia, loss of muscle, or other possible complications of major surgery.

We are a proven leader in the field of major surgery recovery, particularly in situations where there are complications following the procedure. Our long-term acute care hospitals support longer patient stays than traditional hospitals, with a care model that is designed to offer adequate time and resources for in-depth evaluation, comprehensive treatment, and close monitoring. 

Recovering from a major surgery like an organ transplant, amputation, or brain surgery can be a long and arduous process, with many potential complications, discomforts, and setbacks to avoid or manage. Immediately after surgery, a post-operative care team made up of surgeons, anesthesiologists, medical specialists, and nurses will need to monitor vital signs, pain levels, and incisions to make sure there are no initial complications and that the body has tolerated the trauma of invasive surgery. Some of the first post-operative complications or side effects patients may experience shortly after surgery include nausea from anesthesia, a sore throat from intubation, soreness, pain and swelling around the incision, restlessness, thirst, and constipation or gas. 

People who undergo major surgery often spend some time in the intensive care or medical-surgical unit, so that their surgery recovery can be closely monitored, and any potential problems can be identified and treated early. Depending on the type of major surgery, there may be tubes, drains, and monitoring equipment that require consistent oversight from doctors, nurses, and specialists.

Recovery at Kindred

Our interdisciplinary team approach to providing clinical care is a cornerstone of our work and is fundamental to the success of our patients. This team may include physicians, nurses, rehabilitation therapists (physical, occupational, and speech), dietitians, respiratory therapists, pharmacists as well as case management and social workers. Because of their range of disciplines and perspectives, our collaborative teams are able to create comprehensive specialized medical care plans paired with rehabilitation plans for major invasive surgery, like a heart valve replacement, complex surgery affecting multiple parts of the body, like an organ transplant, abdominal procedures and major surgery that has permanent effects, like an amputation. 

When patients undergo a major surgery like a major amputation, their care team must attend to many aspects of recovery, like wound care, pain management, monitoring for complications and conditions that might interfere with healing, physical rehabilitation, and emotional support. We also have expertise in creating goal-directed plans to treat complications after surgery, including those that are brought on by pre-existing chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease. Our team of physicians and nurses specialize in working together to address this type of complex medical scenario in a comprehensive way that supports holistic recovery.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to major surgery recovery,” said Dr. Dean French, Chief Medical Officer. “Even if two people were to have the same brain surgery followed by the same post-operative care at the same traditional hospital, the recovery time and process would vary and be dependent on a number of factors, like potential complications and how each person’s body responses to the trauma of invasive surgery. That is why extended care at an acute care hospital with an integrated team approach is such an important resource for people who need it. Patients who suffer complications or have underlying conditions need a customized care plan that considers all aspects of recovery, and that’s exactly what they get at Kindred.”

Whether you are recovering from spinal surgery, brain surgery, an organ transplant, or any other type of major surgery, Kindred Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals have comprehensive, patient-centered care plans designed for higher-quality outcomes. 

Major Surgery Recovery Services

The individualized care plans we offer for those recovering from major surgery may include:

  • Special care units
  • Pulmonary and respiratory care
  • Advanced wound care
  • Cardiac care
  • IV antibiotic therapy
  • Pain management
  • Laboratory monitoring
  • Nutritional assessment and support
  • Comprehensive rehabilitation programs including physical, occupational, and speech therapies

Surgical wound care is a common type of post-operative care provided at Kindred Hospitals. This includes care for open, non-healing post-surgical wounds, amputations, localized incisions, and infected and/or draining wounds.

Our full range of wound care services, which follow national standards of care and practice, may include, but are not limited to:

  • Surgical services and consultations, including debridement and surgical wound closure
  • Daily physician visits and a wide scope of physician consults
  • Acute care level nursing staff services
  • Identification and treatment of conditions that impede healing
  • Wound assessment and photo documentation
  • Pressure reduction surfaces/mattresses or specialized beds
  • State-of-the-art treatments and procedures
  • Functional and nutritional assessments
  • Vacuum-assisted wound closure
  • Pulsatile lavage/localized hydrotherapy (at some locations)
  • A wide variety of topical wound healing agents
  • Interdisciplinary team conferences with you and your family
  • Education for you and your family
  • IV antibiotics
  • In-house radiology, pharmacy, and lab services

A Strategy That Includes Support

Most people don’t know what to expect after a brain surgery, organ transplant, major abdominal or cardiac surgery or other type of major surgery. If you or a loved one are facing this difficult process, it’s crucial to maintain a strong support system of loved ones as well as experts. One of the things that makes Kindred unique is that our major surgery recovery strategy includes extensive education and support for both patients and family members, facilitating a higher level of independence, improved emotional well-being, and a more successful transition from hospital to home.

Success Spotlight: Louise's Story

Louise was admitted to a general hospital for scheduled heart surgery, and although the procedure was successful she developed respiratory failure and had to be placed on a ventilator. She remained at the short-term hospital until she was able to be transferred to Kindred Hospital for respiratory therapy and rehabilitation.

At the time of her admission, Louise was severely weakened and required full assistance from her caregivers for all her needs. She began to receive advanced respiratory therapy and started to make progress slowly but steadily, improving until she no longer needed support from the ventilator. Louise then progressed to being able to eat and drink a regular diet, allowing for the feeding tube to be removed. With help from her physical and occupational therapists, Louise regained her mobility and independence, and by the time she was discharged from Kindred she was able to walk with a cane, climb and descend steps and take care of all her daily needs.

“I am glad to be going home to be with my husband,” Louise shared just before leaving the facility. Her entire team made sure to drop in one last time to wish her all the best and to let her know how proud they were of her recovery.

Success Spotlight: Ronda's Story

Ronda checked in to a general hospital when a large protrusion in her abdomen began to get worse. She was diagnosed as having a large hernia that required major surgery. Due to other health complications, she also required additional operations and developed respiratory failure after surgery. To complicate matters even more, Ronda was diagnosed with diabetes and had to begin dialysis treatments.

When her condition stabilized, Ronda came to Kindred Hospital for continued post-operative care, including advanced wound care and preparation for the placement of a graft to seal the site of her surgery. At the beginning of her stay, Ronda was extremely depressed due to her new diagnoses and her large and complex wound. But with the aid of her team of caregivers and support from her family, she rallied herself, managing her new dietary restrictions and participating in physical and occupational therapy.

Ronda returned to the general hospital for a couple of days to complete the skin graft surgery and then came back to Kindred to continue her major surgery recovery, which included dedicated wound care. Her wound site improved rapidly and had healed almost completely by the time she was discharged from Kindred.

“After surgery, I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Ronda recalled. “If y’all hadn’t been so positive and supportive, I don’t know if I could have done this. Thank you!”