Day treatment scheduling is time-consuming
Slots are filled on a case-by-case basis
Setting up the schedule for the flexible day treament program at Columbia St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, TX, is similar to fitting a puzzle together, says Laura Hamilton, PhD, day program supervisor.
"We set the schedules on a case-by-case basis," Hamilton says. "Each schedule matters so much to each patient that it’s very satisfying to work it all out."
Each Tuesday afternoon the treatment team meets to set the schedule for the following week. Representatives from each discipline discuss the patients’ needs and preferences and acts as an advocate for each patient’s slot on the schedule. For example, a family member’s schedule may make it necessary for the patient to come in at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. If so, the patient isn’t scheduled for a 9 a.m. treatment.
Juggling the time slots
Some patients may prefer an afternoon time slot for their thrice-weekly speech therapy, or they may be too tired after lunch every day for physical therapy. Others may come just two mornings or three afternoons a week. In addition, there are group treatments and community outings to consider.
The staff take all that into account as they juggle the time slots, patient preferences, and staff time. "It’s a big investment of time to get it just right," Hamilton says. The schedules are entered on a transparency so they can be changed easily.
Once the treatment team sets the schedule, a staff member cross-checks to make sure everything on the patient and staff schedule is the same. Another staff person checks again to make sure the schedules will work. The schedules are printed, distributed to patients and staff, and posted on the weekly therapy board.
"We can’t always accommodate everyone," Hamilton says. "Sometimes a patient gets a good match, and sometimes he or she has to make the best of things."