Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

New Patient Information

 About Your Stay

As a new or prospective patient in Mercy's ARU, you probably have many questions about what to expect from your stay. Below is list of topics that are of interest to our new patients.

Mail Service
Mail is delivered to the unit daily except on Sundays and holidays.

Newspaper Service A copy of the Globe Gazette is delivered to the unit daily for patient use. The Des Moines Register and a selection of other newspapers can be purchased from the machines located in the hospital lobby.

If you bring any medications with you, they must be given to your nurse or sent back home with your family.

Each room has a television set with a remote control. All basic network channels and select cable networks are available.

For the health of our patients and staff, smoking is not permitted in Mercy Medical Center facilities or grounds.

Meals are served in the dining area at approximately: Breakfast: 7:45 a.m. Lunch: 12:15 p.m. Dinner: 5:45 p.m.

Mealtimes need to be flexible to accommodate your therapies. Families are welcome during meals and you may bring food from home if it does not conflict with any special diet your doctor may have ordered.

We make it convenient for you to dine with your visitors. Visitors may purchase a guest tray for $3.50 from the unit clerk or nursing staff for lunch or dinner. Their tray will be delivered to the unit along with yours.

Social visits may be made outside of appointed therapy times. The best times for visiting are evenings. Your therapy schedule for the following day is available on the schedule board by the nurse's station after 4:30 p.m. Visitors may call to find out a good time to visit or observe therapies.

There are various reasons why limited visitors may be beneficial for your recovery or you may find that you need more rest than usual. Staff will assist in limiting the number of visitors as requested or necessary.

Patients wear street clothes during the day on the ARU. Loose fitting clothes, pullovers, and elastic waist pants are the easiest to put on and take off. If these are not what you typically wear at home, however, it is important to wear the style of clothing you will be wearing after discharge from the hospital.

A washer and dryer is available on the unit that may be used for your laundry and may also be included as part of your therapeutic regimen.

Items to Bring with You:

  1. 2 or 3 slacks or sweatpants
  2. 2 or 3 tops, shirts, or blouses
  3. 2 or 3 bras or t-shirts
  4. 2 or 3 pair of underwear
  5. 2 or 3 pair of socks
  6. Sturdy shoes with low heels
  7. 1 sweater
  8. Hat and coat for cold weather
  9. Dentures if you wear them
  10. Eyeglasses or contacts if you wear them
  11. Hearing aids if you wear them

Basic personal hygiene/grooming products are available for use, but if you have certain preferences please bring these items from home. Also, feel free to bring items that may help you feel more comfortable but please refrain from bringing expensive jewelry or cash in excess of $10. Check all electrical appliances with a nurse.

Schedule/Therapy Program
There are a number of group activities that are regularly scheduled throughout the week. Your therapists will refer you to the group activities if they feel it is appropriate for your therapy needs. These sessions may replace your individual therapy sessions or be in addition to your individual sessions.

Community Reintegration
When your therapists feel you are ready, a community outing may be scheduled as part of your therapy. Prior to the outing, a planning session is held with you and a therapist to decide where to go and to discuss the physical, cognitive, and emotional issues involved in returning to your community activities. The outing(s) will focus on teaching you and your family/friends how to get around safely and utilize the skills you have learned in therapy out in the community.

Family/Caregiver Involvement Includes:

  1. Planning for discharge
  2. Meeting with the Social Worker within 1-2 days of admission and throughout your stay on the ARU
  3. Observing therapy and attending training/education sessions
  4. Participating in family conferences
  5. Participating in community integration
  6. Participating in home safety assessment
  7. Participating in an overnight stay in an apartment setting
  8. Participation in Family Conferences

During your stay, family conferences will be scheduled. Various team members, including you and your family, will attend the conference. The purpose of the conference is to:

  1. Encourage you and your family to ask questions about your treatment.
  2. Discuss your progress and abilities.
  3. Identify problems that need continued treatment.
  4. Review your present goals with your team and discuss future goals.
  5. Continue planning for the time you will be discharged.

The Rehabilitation Team
Successful rehabilitation is based on teamwork. As an important member of your team, your input is essential in treatment and planning. You will be involved with many team members in setting the goals for your rehabilitation and in planning your discharge from the unit. If you choose, family, significant other, and/or caregiver can be involved in the treatment planning, goal setting, and conferences.

The Rehabilitation Team consists of many specialists who are working together to teach you and your family the skills you need to become as independent as possible.

Team Conferences
Team conferences are meetings of all the various rehabilitation specialists that compose your rehabilitation team. During this meeting, they share information about your progress and address specific problem areas so that the team can coordinate a plan. At this time, the goals, which you helped your nurse and therapists to set, will be reviewed and discussed.

He/she will oversee your rehabilitation program in conjunction with the doctors who cared for you prior to your ARU admission.

Rehabilitation Nursing

The nurses will:

  1. Perform assessments of your medical and health care needs to assist the team in planning your care.
  2. Teach you about your illness or injury, medications prescribed for you, and help you practice the skills you learn in therapy.
  3. Carry out your team treatment plan on a 24-hour basis.
  4. Provide any necessary caregiver training.
  5. Provide nursing care and medication and administration.

Physical Therapy

The physical therapist will:

  1. Work to increase your muscle strength.
  2. Work toward restoring movement and flexibility.
  3. Teach you transfers from various positions and locations.
  4. Assess your walking or mode of mobility and provide training.
  5. Assess your need for and the use of equipment and/or braces.
  6. Work to improve your endurance, balance, and coordination.
  7. Teach you how to use any braces or devices that are necessary to improve your functional mobility, independence, and safety.
  8. Provide any necessary caregiver training which may be required for participation.
  9. Teach you mobility skills needed for community living including walking on various types of surfaces.

Occupational Therapy

The occupational therapist will:

  1. Teach you skills needed for self-care such as eating and dressing.
  2. Teach you skills needed for homemaking, work, recreation, and community living.
  3. Provide any needed adaptive equipment to increase safety and independence.
  4. Work to improve your balance, strength, and coordination, with a focus on arm and hand function needed to perform daily activities.
  5. Work to improve your ability to correctly perceive your environment and function safely.
  6. Access the cognitive skills needed for your life's situation and if needed, improve them or teach your compensatory strategies.
  7. Provide any needed caregiver training.

Speech Therapy

The speech therapist will:

  1. Help you with the swallowing skills needed to eat and drink safely.
  2. Work on your ability to speak and be understood.
  3. Work on your understanding of speech and written materials.
  4. Work on your ability to communicate through writing and/or the use of gestures.
  5. Help to improve your attention, concentration, memory, reasoning, problem solving skills, or instruct you in compensatory strategies if needed.
  6. Instruct you in the proper use of your voice to prevent voice problems or improve your voice quality.
  7. Provide any needed caregiver training.


The dietician will:

  1. Make sure that you have a proper and adequate diet.
  2. Assist you in meal planning and menu choices.
  3. Teach you proper nutrition and special diet preparation.

Social Service

The social worker will:

  1. Assume case management responsibilities for your treatment plan during your hospital stay.
  2. Assist you and your family in coordinating all of the services required for discharge, including referrals to appropriate community agencies.
  3. Assist you and your family to adjust to the changes in your life due to this injury or illness.
  4. Counsel you or your family as necessary.
  5. Assist you with question regarding insurance, finances, and billing.

Pastoral Care

A member of pastoral care is available to:

  1. Assist you and your family with spiritual and emotional concerns.
  2. Contact your parish priest or pastor if you wish to see them.

Discharge Planning

Discharge planning begins the day of admission. Your concerns and plans regarding discharge are important to us so please share them with us early in your stay. Our average length of stay is one to three weeks. The discharge date is a team decision and is determined by the amount of progress made. Goals of discharge planning are to identify a safe place of residence, ensure that the patient and caregivers and adequately trained in essential skills and arrange for any continued services and equipment needs.

  1. Home Safety Assessment It may be beneficial for you and members of the rehabilitation team to make a visit to your home prior to your discharge. They will make recommendations for any modifications in your home that will be helpful for you to be as safe and independent as possible.
  2. After Discharge Because we are interested in your progress after you have been discharged from the ARU, you or your family may be contacted and asked some specific questions concerning your abilities and progress since discharge and your satisfaction with your stay.