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North Hills Monthly

UPMC Cranberry Place – the Best of Both Worlds for Short-stay Rehab and Long-term Care

Oct 31, 2014 12:52PM ● By Vanessa Orr
When Patricia Majors first visited her husband, Kenneth, at UPMC Cranberry Place after his release from the hospital, she was impressed with how bright and cheerful it was, and how little it resembled a nursing home. By the time Kenneth left after three weeks of short-term rehabilitation required to help him gain strength after congestive heart failure, the couple agreed that if the time ever came when they needed long-term nursing care, they would move to Cranberry Place.

Centrally located in the heart of Cranberry Township, Cranberry Place provides both short-term rehabilitation services for patients recovering from chronic medical issues or serious medical procedures, and long-term care for those patients who, while not needing hospitalization, can no longer safely live at home.

“As a result of his congestive heart failure, Ken was very weak, so he underwent extensive physical therapy at Cranberry Place to help him become stronger and more stable on his feet so that he could walk,” explains Ms. Majors. “He is also diabetic, so they worked on getting his blood sugar under control.

“We were so impressed by everything at Cranberry Place, from the range of activities they provided for patients to the fact that everyone, from the head nurse to the housekeeping staff, made a point to stop in and talk to us to see if we needed anything,” she continues. “They were all so accommodating—whether I was asking for a meal so I could share dinner with my husband, to helping me out with all of the paperwork. They just go the extra mile. We agreed that if either of us ever has to permanently move to a nursing facility, this is where we’d both want to go.”

Short-stay Rehabilitation
According to Medical Director Tad Scheri, MD, there are numerous reasons why patients come to Cranberry Place for care. “Many of the people we treat have undergone joint replacement or other orthopaedic surgery, or are debilitated following prolonged hospital stays,” he explains. “We focus on controlling their pain and helping them through rehab so that they can get stronger and ideally, return home within one to four weeks.”

While the rehab process itself can be challenging for patients, the staff in the short-stay rehabilitation program, which is run by the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services (CRS), tries to make it as convenient as possible. “One thing that is unique about Cranberry Place is that we provide seven-day-a-week rehab, and offer early to late appointments to work around the needs of our patients,” says Facility Administrator Roger Davis. “If a patient isn’t a morning person, we don’t make them get up and do therapy at 8 a.m.”

On-site rehabilitation programs include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and restorative nursing which includes exercise, walking, socialization, activities of daily living and splinting programs. In collaboration with the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute and CRS, Cranberry Place offers a Road to Rehab program that allows patients to move through levels of physical therapy as they progress.

John Fox spent four weeks at Cranberry Place this past summer while recuperating from an operation on his hand that was the result of a puncture wound. In addition to having antibiotics administered through a PICC line during his stay, he also underwent occupational therapy to help him get ready to return to work.

“I’m right-handed, and I injured my right hand,” explained the groundskeeper. “During occupational therapy, they had me do various exercises based on what I do for a living so that I could get the use of my hand back. It will take up to a year to completely get full function back, but for right now, I’m able to do my job, which is all that really matters.

“I think what I liked most is that everyone was really helpful—the nurses, nurses’ aides, physician assistants—they all listened,” he adds. “They were able to answer all of my questions and they were very attentive; they were just fantastic.”

Long-term Care
While rehab patients are focused on getting better and going home, Cranberry Place is the home of choice for a number of people who, due to dementia or other chronic conditions, require 24-hour skilled nursing care in a safe, secure setting. “For those patients who are no longer able to live at home independently, we are able to provide a nursing home level of care customized to their needs,” says Director of Nursing Lonny Boord, RN. “Our staff is fantastic—they are not only extremely competent, but very compassionate as well.”

In the 150-bed facility, patients have access to numerous specialized services, including IV therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, wound care, feeding tubes, respiratory care, dialysis services, total parenteral nutrition (TPN), ventricular assist devices (VAD), tracheostomy, and cancer treatment support, as well as respite, hospice and pastoral care. An experienced team that includes certified nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants work to enhance residents’ quality of life and return them to their highest level of functioning.

“We provide all of the services that our long-term residents need, from monitoring chronic conditions such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, and emphysema to doing regular bloodwork and addressing any kind of acute conditions that have been brought to our attention,” says Dr. Scheri. “I think what’s different here than at a lot of other facilities is that we really offer the personal touch; we have a small group of doctors who have a lot of contact with the patients so we really get to know them, and we talk to their family members when they’re here. We also work closely with the staff, and they do an excellent job.”

Cranberry Place offers residents many amenities, including elegant dining, an in-house salon and barber shop, complete housekeeping and laundry services, flat screen TVs with cable included, WiFi throughout the facility, public computer access, on-site pastoral care services and interdenominational church service, and a 24-hour visitation policy. In addition, the facility offers a wide range of activities geared toward keeping residents active and involved.

“One of the most unique things about Cranberry Place is the number of outings and events that take place here; it’s a very diverse, dynamic place,” says Mr. Davis. “We offer everything from music therapy provided by Slippery Rock University to car cruises and caricaturists—if it’s a good idea, we’ll try to run with it.”

“There’s something on the calendar every day that encourages people to mingle and get to know each other—it’s more like a family getting together than a senior facility or a nursing home,” says Ms. Majors. “While Ken was there, they had a barbecue, which they do on different days for each wing. They brought in the food off the grill and had a great big picnic, and invited all of the family members to join.”

According to Activity Director and Volunteer Coordinator Michelle Skal, getting patients and residents involved in activities is important for a number of reasons. “When people are in a facility like this, whether for short-term rehab or long-term care, the only difference between one day and the next is the food and the fun,” she explains.

Inclusion is key at Cranberry Place, and Ms. Skal and her staff modify all of the activities so everyone can participate. “Whatever their level of ability, we can fulfill their needs,” she says. Events and activities have included a Lemon Meringue Pie Day, Bike Night, car cruises, arts and crafts, movie nights, jugglers, ice cream carts, volleyball and more.

“One night, we played Family Feud and served banana smoothies,” says Ms. Skal. “Not only were people actively being challenged, but they were getting good, nutritious snacks as well. It was a great way for everyone to establish camaraderie.”

As a result of these types of activities, and the high quality of medical care provided, Cranberry Place has received a four-star rating from Medicare, which reviews all of the nursing homes in the country. “This is not a dull and dreary place; we encourage positivity throughout the building—it’s very upbeat,” says Mr. Davis. “We encourage anyone who would like to come and tour the facility to visit us to see how we can help with their current or future needs.”

UPMC Cranberry Place is located at 5 St. Francis Way, Cranberry Township, PA 16066. For more information, call 724-772-5350 or visit

This advertorial has been provided by UPMC.