June 3, 2004
Hospital continues tradition of innovation with Methodist Specialty Care
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
FLOWOOD, Miss.—More than 25 years ago, a small band of visionaries saw a void in Mississippi's health care system and shepherded the creation of Methodist Rehabilitation Center.
Now the hospital has built on that proud tradition with the opening of Methodist Specialty Care, the state's first long-term care center for the severely disabled.
The $9 million Flowood facility is designed to address the complex medical needs of people who need around-the-clock assistance with activities of daily living.
"Now family members who can't provide such care at home won't face the difficult decision of sending their loved ones out of state," said Mark Adams, Methodist's president and chief executive officer. "This is a significant achievement for Mississippi, and especially for our residents who are severely disabled. "
The center's opening was celebrated Feb. 18 and 19 with a ribbon cutting and receptions for the Mississippi House and Senate. An honored guest at the gatherings was Sharon Woodfield of Gulfport, whose 36-year-old son Michael is the center's first resident.
Michael's dad, the late state Sen. Clyde Woodfield, was instrumental in expediting the creation of the center after Michael was severely brain-injured in a 1997 motorcycle accident. A bill that he helped steer through the 1998 legislative session made it possible for Methodist to receive an exception to the lengthy state certificate of need process.
"Sen. Woodfield said: 'If anything good can come of Michael's tragedy, I'll help you,' Adams said. "The Governor, Legislature, Division of Medicaid and the Mississippi State Department of Health should all be commended for following through and making this dream a reality."
The three-story center is located adjacent to Methodist's East Campus and couples state-of-the-art medical technology with a warm and inviting environment. On each floor, three short, carpeted hallways radiate from a central area that houses the nursing stations and dayrooms. This layout eliminates the institutional feel of long hospital-like corridors and reduces the distance between the nurses' stations and the residents' rooms.
Common areas located on each floor offer residents a place to gather and provide an inviting view of nearby Mirror Lake. There's also an attractive dining area on the first floor that opens to a covered courtyard.
Each private room features its own bathroom and comes furnished with a telephone, television and high-speed Internet access. While the look is that of an upscale hotel, medical equipment such as oxygen lines and other medical gases are close at hand. Specialized environmental controls also will be customized for those who need systems that can be voice-activated or operated by breath-controlled devices.
The center will employ 120, and its nurse-to-patient ratio is much lower than traditional nursing home facilities. While a typical nursing station takes care of 60 patients, the center's nursing station takes care of 30.
Because the center is a division of Methodist, the staff also benefits from a collaborative relationship with the hospital's medical team. This gives center residents access to the latest medical advances, including long-term experimental drug trials and therapeutic treatments that foster the highest level of function.
Staff also has access to some of the latest innovations in nursing care - such as "smart-charting." The wireless system allows staff to use handheld PCs to document care at a patient's bedside.
The attention given to the patient's care and comfort is reassuring to Woodfield. While she's reluctant to relinquish her caregiver role, Woodfield said she is grateful that Methodist created a facility that can meet Michael's complex medical needs.
"There is no other staff I would entrust his care to," Woodfield said. "I know Methodist is the most qualified to run a place like this. It's not a nursing home. It's like an intensive care unit in every room."