February 14, 2004
Methodist Rehabilitation Center opens first-of-its-kind facility that will cater to the needs of the severely disabled
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
FLOWOOD, Miss.—Mississippi’s most severely disabled residents no longer have to go out of state to receive long-term, specialized care.
The new Methodist Specialty Care Center in Flowood is the state’s first facility to meet the needs of people whose care is too medically complex for traditional nursing homes.
A division of Methodist Rehabilitation Center, the $9 million, 60-bed facility opens Feb. 23 and will be home to patients who have no voluntary function and/or need around-the-clock care—such as victims of severe brain and spinal cord injuries.
“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. ”
Sharon Woodfield of Gulfport is among the people celebrating the center’s opening, albeit with mixed emotions. One of the center’s first residents will be her 36-year-old son Michael, who was severely disabled in a 1997 motorcycle accident.
While she’s reluctant to relinquish her caregiver role, Woodfield 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.”
Michael’s dad, the late state Sen. Clyde Woodfield, was instrumental in expediting the creation of the center. A bill that he shepherded 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 center houses 60 private rooms with private baths and is designed to seem more like a home than an institution, said center director Bobby Stigler. Gone are long hospital-like corridors and in their place are short, carpeted passageways that reduce the distance between the nurse’s stations and the residents’ rooms.
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 are available for those who need systems that can be voice-activated or operated by breath-controlled devices.
“We’ll be designing customized environmental control units as each resident is admitted,” Stigler said.
Other features include telephones, televisions and high-speed Internet access in every room. Common areas located on each floor will offer residents a place to gather. And a specially designed van will be available for transportation to hospitals, clinics, college classes or social outings.
“Our intent is to provide our residents the ability to experience life as much as their individual disability allows,” Stigler said.
The center will employ 120, and positions are still available for nurses and respiratory therapists. “One advantage of working here is our nurse-to-patient ratio will be much lower than traditional nursing facilities,” Stigler said. “A typical nursing station takes care of 60 patients. Our nursing station will take care of 30.
Stigler said staff also will have access to some of the latest innovations in nursing care. “The center was designed to take advantage of high-tech services such as ‘smart-charting,’ ’’ he said. “Our wireless capabilities make it possible for caregivers to use handheld PCs to document the care they’re giving at the patient’s bedside.”
To ensure a smooth transition, the center will open one patient floor at a time. Stigler said an admissions committee will be in charge of approving patients for the center. For more information, call 601-420-7760 or go to methodistonline.org.
Methodist Specialty Care Center in Flowood is a $9 million, 60-bed facility that will provide long-term specialized care for disabled patients whose medical needs are too complex for traditional nursing homes. The center will serve people who have severe brain or spinal cord injuries and need around-the-clock care. Typical residents will be younger than traditional nursing home patients.