River Region offering public tours this afternoon

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 13, 2002

[02/10/02]Convenience is the buzz word as hospital executives prepare to open River Region Medical Center, the brand new, 391,196-square-foot hospital on U.S. 61 North.

“At this time, I don’t think there are any hospitals that are going to match this one from a patient-convenience standpoint,” said Phillip Clendenin, CEO of River Region Health System.

Clendenin said building from scratch allowed River Region to streamline its services, giving it an advantage over older hospitals that continue to add on and must work around older plans. “We started with a clean slate,” Clendenin said.

Visitors to the hospital will be directed through the plush atrium to any area of the hospital. “When you’re here, you can see where you need to be,” Clendenin said.

“No more roaming down halls,” he said. “It will allow us to do a better job of grouping our patients.

“We’ve been able to focus our resources,” he said.

The hospital’s opening next Sunday will mark a consolidation of Vicksburg’s hospital services. Vicksburg’s history of privately owned health care began to move toward larger corporations in 1990 when Mercy Regional Medical Center was sold to Quorum Health Corporation and renamed ParkView Regional Medical Center.

In 1998, a corporate merger transferred ownership of the hospital to River Region Health System.

Now ParkView is closing. The new, $123 million facility will replace ParkView Regional Medical Center and will take over acute care services from River Region West, formerly known as Vicksburg Medical Center, which will focus on behavioral health, home health and rehabilitation.

“I think it’s going to be a long-term improvement for health care in Vicksburg,” said Dr. Briggs Hopson, medical director and board member with River Region Health System in Vicksburg.

Most important, Hopson said, everything will be convenient.

“The biggest thing is that we’ll have everything centralized,” he said. “People are looking for one-stop shopping and convenience.” Hopson said one hospital provides that more efficiently than two.

The new hospital, he said, “will give us more space.” The operating rooms are larger, and the delivery rooms are twice the size of the old ones, he said.

The new hospital will also draw more physicians to Vicksburg, Clendenin said.

“Our plan is to add services, add jobs, recruit more physicians and recruit more specialists,” he said.

Hopson said the hospital will continue to expand with technology.

“We’re shooting for 10 doctors right away,” Hopson said. He said the hospital wants new pulmonologists, neurologists, two cardiologists, two surgeons and family practitioners.

The complex took two years to build. It is the largest single hospital building project in Mississippi history.

Hopson cited several improvements that the 215-bed facility will bring.

There will be nine surgery suites instead of four. “The smallest room is bigger than the largest we’ve had,” Hopson said.

There is all-new monitoring equipment in each of the 16 cardiac and intensive care rooms.

A childbirthing center will feature two cesarean-section rooms, five neo-natal intensive care beds, eight birthing suites and 12 postpartum care rooms.

A 27-bed emergency wing will offer two full-body CT scanners, capable of performing a full-body scan in 45 seconds.

River Region Medical Center is part of River Region Health System, a consolidation of health-care facilities in West Central Mississippi and Northeast Louisiana. River Region Health System is an affiliate of Dallas-based Triad hospitals.

It includes the new hospital, River Region West Campus (formerly Vicksburg Medical Center), Marion Hill Chemical Dependency Center (on the ParkView campus on Grove Street), Southern Orthopedics, Vicksburg Clinic, The Street Clinic, The ENT Clinic, Family Medicine Clinic and clinics in Port Gibson and Tallulah.