Meet Amber Rupert, Director of Outpatient Rehabilitation

Picture It. Boonsboro 2022. You are sitting in the hospital with your dad after he has just broken his hip. Doctors have been in and out of the room all day poking and prodding, examining and asking questions. Finally, the orthopedic surgeon comes in and walks you through the surgery that will be needed. He tells you and dad that the surgery will be simple but afterwards there will be four weeks of physical therapy in a skilled nursing facility. You start to research online to find the best physical therapy programs in the area. But before you can do that, you have to understand what physical therapy is…

By definition, Physical Therapy is the treatment of disease or injury, or deformity, by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery. This usually will take place after a fall, injury, or major or minor surgery. But sometimes it’s not just Physical Therapy that is needed. Sometimes it’s Occupational Therapy to regain strength in the fine motor skills. Other times, it’s Speech Therapy after a stroke has affected a resident’s ability to speak or swallow. Sometimes, a patient can come for Outpatient Physical Therapy where they don’t need to be a resident necessarily but a physician still wants them to come to a therapy gym and work with a therapist a few times a week. Residents who are preparing for discharge may have a therapist follow them home for an At Home Visit where a therapist will follow them home and make sure that they will be able to get in and out of bed, move around hallways, get in and out of the bathtub and climb up and down stairs. At Fahrney Keedy, we offer all these therapy programs. And one therapist is at the helm of it all. But don’t ask her to choose favorites. That’s not exactly one of her many certifications.

Each week, we will be highlighting a member of the Fahrney Keedy Family to learn a bit more about their life and career. They will be offering a unique perspective on their role as well as advice for those considering a career in senior living.

This week, we get a snapshot into the life and career of Amber Rupert, Director of Rehab Services:

Where did you go to school? What was your major? “I went to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia where I got my Bachelor’s in Health Sciences and Masters in Occupational Therapy.”

Do you have any other certifications? “I am a certified Kinesiotaping Practitioner, Dementia Certified Practitioner and a couple of hours away from completing my Fall Prevention Specialist Certification.”

When did you know you wanted to be an Occupational Therapist? What drew you to your current position? “I had the opportunity to coach gymnastics in high school. Through that I was able to see how movement and strengthening affected milestones for young children specifically when paired with an activity or task that they loved. With further research, I found Occupational Therapy and it was so appealing to see how assessment/intervention and provision of “tools” would allow for development, recovery or maintenance of meaningful activities for people of all ages. I never saw myself working in geriatrics. Applying for school and throughout my schooling I was convinced that I wanted to be a pediatric therapist. However I had amazing clinical experiences in adult day settings, outpatient settings, acute care, and inpatient rehab that made me realize that I really enjoy the adult population. I continued to dabble in pediatrics as a PRN therapist when I first graduated but 2 years into my full time employment in inpatient rehab I knew that I would only ever dabble in pediatrics. Fast forward and I am now a Skilled Nursing Facility. The best part of being in a continuing care community retirement community is the ability to see people throughout the different seasons of their lives from providing therapy in independent living, assisted living, short term rehab, and potentially long term care. You have the ability to develop wonderful relationships with those in the community. Additionally, in the short term rehab realm you get to see the amazing progress that people make and their rehab journey from the hospital to home.”

What brought you to Fahrney Keedy? “I came to the Fahrney Keedy facility six years ago under a contract agency. I was looking for a change and a job closer to home. Fahrney Keedy has since taken over the therapy department in house and it has been a wonderful experience and transition.”

In honor of #tbt, we want to throw it back to your first day at Fahrney Keedy. What do you remember? “I remember getting lost. This building was large and the first and second floors are pretty much laid out exactly the same. I also remember how helpful everyone was.”

What does a day in the life look like for you? What are your duties and responsibilities? “Every day is a little bit different. However, every day I make schedules for the therapy staff ensuring that the residents are getting the appropriate frequency and duration of therapy based on their diagnosis. I complete evaluations, re-certifications, discharges, and supervised visits as needed for the residents on OT caseload. I screen residents to assess if they have a skilled therapy need. I attend care plan meetings to discuss discharge planning, current levels of function and performance with our interdisciplinary team/residents/family for our short term rehab candidates. I coordinate with the MDS, social work, and billing departments on a daily basis for verification of benefits and performance coding for CMS, as well as discharge planning, completing quarterly reports for quality assurance, and attending various meetings.”

Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent working here that you would be willing to share? ” I have a lot of favorite memories and they typically surround the relationships that I have been fortunate to build with our residents. It is hard to pick just one. I love getting residents in the kitchen for their therapy, baking and cooking meals together. I love putting smiles on the faces of the residents cracking terrible “dad jokes” or walking down the hallway with my hiccups and hearing the residents say “here comes Amber, I wonder if she is getting me for therapy.” I love meeting residents after they admit from the hospital and hearing them say “I want to walk out of here” and then watching them do just that when they return home.”

This pandemic has been hard for everyone but especially for those individuals working in healthcare. How did you personally get through it? “Some days are harder than others. The pandemic has drastically changed the way we deliver therapy services (although we are closer to “normal” more now than two years ago) and has put many restrictions on more than one area in healthcare/therapy. However, watching people regain independence with tasks and/or maintain independence with tasks and activities helps you get through harder days. Everyone in the therapy department is here because we truly love and care for the residents we work with and we want them to be as independent as possible and enjoy or have a productive aging experience.”

Oscar Wilde once said “with age comes wisdom”. What advice would you give to your younger self? “The difficult days will be worth it.”

What advice would you give to someone interested in working in occupational therapy? “Take the time to shadow occupational therapists in various settings. Occupational therapy stretches across the entire lifespan from premature babies to geriatrics. The field and its opportunities are vast.”

And, last question, why should someone choose to join the Fahrney Keedy team? “You should join the Fahrney Keedy team because it is a supportive, focused community and therapy is always FUN!”

Five Second Pose!

We asked Amber five rapid fire questions to get to know her better (Amber would like you to know she is awful at picking favorites):

Favorite Color: Orange, Blue, and Green

Favorite Movie: Not a movie watcher, prefers to read. Cannot pick a favorite book.

Favorite Disney Character: Does Not Have One

Favorite Superhero: Captain America (also her son Case’s favorite)

Favorite Actor Age 65 & Over: Does Not Have One

1 Fun Fact: Amber loves to go camping!

Thank you so much to Amber Rupert for sharing! Stay tuned next week when we add another photo to our Family Album!