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Kessler Institute, NJ

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    Carl - thanks for your reply. Unfortunately things have changed quite a bit there I guess. They are very shorthanded with very little help after 6:00pm. We've also had a few mishaps with meds getting 30mg MS IR during the day instead of the 15 MS IR. Also new nurses every day. They are rotating other nurses in from their other sites. So unfortunately you don't have much time to bond with a nurse. Also every nurse does their bowel management quite differently so we had to discuss that with the physician to make sure we are consistent with that. I arrive every night at 6:00pm and all the lights to the rooms are constantly buzzing and patients guests are usually standing out in the hall waiting for some assistance. Thank GOD we have someone staying there to help because the other morning she was joking on her food and her mother had to run to FIND someone to assist - god forbid if she had been alone. Very disappointed, but unfortunately we just arrived at a bad time for them. I also checked the Kessler site and they have a major employment list for nurses and pts - not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Rehab - they have one pt for every 3 people so you are pretty much left on your own to do your therapy and they come back and check on you. Also the roommate of my family member is always asking us to assist her because she pushes her button and no one comes. One night I waited an hour for a nurse to come. That is why this week I will learn how to cath and do the bowel stimulation. One night they put a suppository in at 9:00pm before I left and they didn't come until 2:00am to assist with the movement. Again inconsistencies in how each nurse does the bowel management. I have also made up a binder with daily meds (color of the pill, size and times of administering) because we had an incident where my family member felt that the size and taste of the pill was not what she was used to getting and the nurse argued with her and said that because she was so heavily medicated she didn't know what she was talking about. Again not good. The other rehab "we" were in in Florida - they would come in with all pills prepackaged and would open the pill in front of us and then state what they were giving - at least we knew exactly what she was getting. At Kessler they come with all the pills in a cup and then try to get you to swallow all of them at once. This is something I'm going to talk with the doctor about I'm sure this is for convenience purposes abd because they have so many people but GOD forbid we get the wrong stuff. I've also noticed that since she has been at Kessler they changed her meds and all she does now is sleep all day long - at the other rehab she was much more alert - the doctors' reasoning is that in Florida it was warm and she was allowed to go outside - here it is cold and the desire to stay up is not there. Also my family member is very aware of how much more drugged she is, but the doctor did say that this week they would start weaning her off some of the meds. Pray for us and the others there. It's unfortunate for the others who don't have a family member with them all day and until the wee hours of the night. The one thing I do like is that they allow us to stay rather late and this allows us to learn more about what to expect at home. God Bless!


      You know, the nurses don't work for the doctors. There is little they can do about staffing, assignments or standards of care or nurse competency.

      You need to speak with the head nurse on the unit, and if you don't get satisfaction, go to their supervisor (usually an assistant director of nursing) and then to the director of nursing. Ask about a patient advocate or patient representative too. Also, since they are CARF accredited, you are entitled to write a letter of complaint to CARF, which they will be required to respond to at their next accreditation survey.

      The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


        SCI-Nurse - thanks for your help. We did speak with the supervisor on her floor and he did admit to being understaffed, but then later stated he didn't mean to say that. Also he said that the reason there was some confusion was because she had just arrived and to give it a week and then things would settle down - so we are now on week 2 and things are still a bit out of wack. I'm going to take the day off this week and absorb how the day to day functions are run and then will speak with the director of the department. I don't want to file the complaint yet because I would hate to get anyone in trouble, but unfortunately a few other patients on that floor have expressed their disatisfaction with the service, but are afraid to complain as well. I'll wait a few more days and if things don't change will do so. Thanks so much for the information, because unfortunately sometimes we feel we don't have the right to open our mouths because it is ranked #2 and you wonder if someone will really believe you. God Bless.


          I REALLY wish I had known that your family member was based/located in FL...You were SOOOOOO close to Shepherd Center in Atlanta...OR Jackson Memorial(with Miami Project) in Miami...Both of which are Model SCI centers...A lot of people here(me included, although I didn't get to go to Shepherd) would HIGHLY recommend Shepherd...I was at the most AWFUL rehab center in Orlando...What was the driving force behind going to Kessler? seems a bit far to travel from FL when you have 2 model centers so much closer...I REALLY hope that things improve in NJ and that the staffing issues get straightened up...Be VERY VOCAL, it's necesary, don't let the dr's or staff intimidate you(we did, somewhat), stand your ground and speak up for your family member's rights and needs. Go to the highest administrative personnel at the hospital if necesary...(I had to myself, an OT was fired over an incident with me)...Keep pushing and keep your chin WILL get better, but it does take time...feel free to PM me if you need/want to...
          L-1 inc 11/24/03

          "My Give-a-Damn's Busted"......


            Thanks Broknwing - she is from NJ and for her medicaid to kick in she had to come back to NJ. My brother and her only spend winter months in Florida (horse trainers you know) and then return home for the summer horseshow season. We tried to get into Shepherd, but with no insurance you needed alot of cash up front. I am going to stand my ground because some of her meds were "messed" up and she would sleep all the time - we just found out that the doctor had introduced a new med without telling her - now she's off that other med and her old self again. I'm going to make a few more observations and then go to the head of the spinal cord department with my findings. The saving grace is though - they do let us stay there until we want to leave and they don't run us out at 8:30pm when visiting hours are over. Although they don't run us out because we are doing her bowel, bladder, bathing and meds. So it's one less patient for them to worry about. We know that they have their purpose in her life and our ultimate goal is PUSH TO WALK! So we'll deal with this for now. Also I work for a pharmaceutical company so every new med that is getting introduced - I go right to work now and get my boss to give me the goods and the bads. I totally appreciate everyone on this site for all the guidance you are all giving us. Our family and mostly me would be lost without reading the posts and getting honest feedback. God Bless you!
            Last edited by Lindasue; 6 Mar 2007, 9:45 AM.


              LindaSue, is your family member named Kim? If so, I have been following her situation through the "CarePages". If not, then there is another equestrian at Kessler who is going through a rough time too. She had her accident in Florida. I thought you might want to "connect" with her at Kessler.

              My daughter, Karen Brain, also has a spinal cord injury from riding, and I have found this site to be my lifesaver! There is truly so much information that you can get here that I wouldn't know where else to get that information. Karen's level of injury is much lower - T12.

              I wish all the best for your loved one's recovery. Good for you for getting information for her.

              Darlene Brain


                Karen'sMom - Kim is another equestrian that got hurt after my brother's fiance did. Tara was also in Florida. Kim and her have both connected and talk a bit when they have the time.

                I went on Karen's site and I believe there are two gentlemen who are friends with Karen that shared Karen's story with her while she was in the Trauma center in Florida. Peter and Paul were their names and they are from Canada.
                God Bless.


                  Hi LindaSue, thanks for the reply to my post. I am sorry that Tara has sustained a spinal cord injury, but I'm glad that you found this site! I hope she continues to progress in her Rehab.

                  Yes, Karen (and I) know Peter and Paul. Peter was the Coach for the Canadian Team when Karen went to the World Equestrian Games in Italy in 1998 for 3-day eventing. Is that the sport that Tara does also? Karen is now a member of the Canadian Para-Equestrian Team (Dressage) and it is VERY competitive. Some of the riders are amazing ........... many high level quads.

                  She did try low level eventing twice after her injury but realized that she really should not have been doing that. One time, while she was walking the cross-country course, she came to a water jump that was like a pond, with fences on each side of it. It had stepping stones over the pond to get to the other side, but because of Karen's injury, she could not walk across it without help. Peter (and probably Paul) and many, many other riders walked the course and stopped to talk to her at the jump, but Karen was too proud (or stupid) to tell anyone the predicament she was in, and no one realized that she was stuck and couldn't get past it. Finally, in desperation, she clawed her way over a huge log, to carry on, but I felt so badly and saddened when she told me that. I am sure anyone would have helped her if they at all realized that she could not walk on the stepping stones!!! .. stubborn girl!

                  Tell Tara that if she ever needs help, just ask for it! Someone will be more than happy to help.

                  Good Luck to her with her continued recovery! I wish her well.



                    I've been looking over this thread, and this seems to be everyone's expeience here. Literally, everyone I talk to, this is what happens, and it's tragic.

                    My question is, how is it that everyone that HASN'T gone there or isn't from the area has heard that it is so GOOD? Where does this reputation come from?

                    All I heard when I was in inpatient at Shepherd was how good it was. Then I found out the truth. I don't get how a place with so many unhappy patients continues to SEEM so good.

                    Mind boggling.
                    C5/6- Workin' on Recovery


                      I spent 3 months at Kessler - West Orange in 2004,
                      The medical staff - i.e. nurses and aids were stretched to their limit by understaffing (one of my room mates had been there 10 yrs. earlier and said that we four guys would have had one aid for our room then, in '04 we were on of three or four rooms per aid).
                      The therapists were excellent in my opinion. When I went back for a visit later in the year, some of the older therapists (among the best imo) had left because benefits had been slashed by new management.
                      I credit my primary Dr. and Kessler with the fact that I can walk now, I just don't know how things are now.


                        Kessler was sold to a different corporation a few years ago. This may account for many of these changes. I think part of its reputation 10 years ago was based on CR choosing it for his rehab, but I know that quite a few of their better staff left after the sale and change in administration.

                        The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


                          Correct and a friend of ours kept telling us to get her into Shepherds but we couldn't and yes because CR went everyone thinks it is great. "T" went there because she needed to come back to Jersey to collect her Medicaid benefits. She also knows that they are not going to be the ones to help her get better. We know that Push To Walk is going to be our blessing. (by the way Darren your mom has been awesome in answering my emails). I work for a big pharmaceutical company and connected with one of the doctors at Kessler because one of our executives was there for a brain and spinal cord injury and they offered all the help in the world when we didn't complain and he told me to contact them if there was any problems. Well I did - I sent a list of all the bad things and haven't had a response back for 2 weeks. Also they have now shut down the Kessler in East Orange and have combined the two facilities so now they are really understaffed. We have made friends with most of the nurses and other staff so that they kind of look out for us, but they all have one foot out the door. They also had a bomb scare about 4 weeks ago, but they kept that very quiet. Probably a disgruntled patient. I got there last night at 6:30pm and an older gentlemen was at the nurses station sitting in his chair with his gown hanging off his shoulder, not able to move or talk - I believe he had just been brought in by an ambulance - when I left last night at 10:00pm he was still in the same spot and not one person had moved him. Very sad. Fortunately "T" gets out on April 2nd and then we are off to Push To Walk. Look out Darren here we come!!