Hospital’s swing bed program brings patients home

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Often, living in a small town means having your medical needs met in another city. But that’s not the case at Eureka Springs Hospital, where patients can recover from surgery or sickness just a short drive from home.

Amber Leibee, who runs the swing bed program, said the program exists as a bridge between an acute care stay and the road home for recovering patients. Once a patient is out of the acute care phase, Leibee said, they can stay at Eureka Springs Hospital and receive the same care offered at larger facilities much closer to home.

Amber Leibee

“It’s actually the same bed, so they don’t change anything except status,” Leibee said. “The patient has this comfort knowing they don’t have to leave their hometown where their family and friends are. They get to stay here and their friends and family can come see them.”

Otherwise, Leibee said, the patient would have to recover in larger cities in Northwest Arkansas — at least a two-hour drive round-trip. That means friends and family can visit easier, Leibee said, and more often. Leibee said the swing bed program is ideal for Carroll County’s aging population, but it’s available for all ages.

“We can swing people for many reasons. If they’ve had a knee or hip replacement, that would probably be more of the elderly population but not necessarily,” Leibee said. “Absolutely, it’s a great resource for older folks.”

Hospital CEO Angie Shaw said the program helps the hospital as much as it helps the patients. It’s one of those programs that brings patients in, Shaw said, and helps the facility survive when the census is low. When she first started working at the hospital, Shaw said, the program had up to seven patients at any given time.

“That’s where it helps a critical access hospital,” Shaw said. “They’re short-term patients, but then they’re considered long-term patients, too. We’ve had patients who have been here for months in the swing bed program because they needed advanced care they couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Many swing bed patients are elderly, Shaw said, and their spouses can’t physically drive to visit a rehab facility in Fayetteville.

“We can offer those exact same services here, and in much better proximity to their home,” Shaw said. “It’s good for us, it’s good for the community and it’s good for the patients. It brings them home.”

Leibee said she has loved being part of the supportive team focused on patient care at Eureka Springs Hospital. She served in the Navy and the Marine Corps before becoming a nurse, Leibee said, a job she’s enjoyed for the past 15 years. Leibee moved to Eureka Springs with her husband after seeing an opening at the hospital last fall, and everything fell into place almost immediately.

“We have a great team here because everyone is so invested in making this hospital great,” Leibee said. “They’re just wonderful.”

Eureka Springs Hospital is completely focused on the patients, Leibee said, and that’s what she loves about it.

“We have good care, good quality services and people that are invested in the community,” Leibee said. “Many people I’ve seen here as a patient … they have this history with the people who work here. They know their grandma and their grandpa and their aunts and their uncles. It’s all about family here.”

Shaw said the hospital is improving its services and care with each passing day.

“We’re in a good place and we’re going to continue to move forward,” Shaw said. “It’s going to be a climb for a little while. I think we’re making those strides every day. We have a good staff. All our nurses are top-notch and we have new directors in place that have this hospital near and dear to their hearts.”

For more information on the services offered at the hospital, visit www.EurekaSpringsHospital.com.

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