Hospital moving to continuing care

Published 9:52 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

A move toward providing services outside the four walls of the hospital is a goal of Merit Health River Region,Greg Pearson CEO of the hospital told the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club this week.

“With all the changes that are coming in health care — you have all heard about Obama Care and you have all heard about the Affordable Care Act —the changes that are going to be occurring are going to be focused on patient outcomes,” Pearson said.

As an industry, not only will hospitals be responsible for treating patients during their hospital stay, but they will also have to offer continued care, he said.

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“The only way we are going to be successful in the future as an industry is if we can keep our patients well, and one way to do that is offer as many services to that patient as possible,” Pearson said.

Partnering with other hospitals accomplishes this, he said.

In January, Community Health Systems merged River Region with five other central Mississippi hospitals that now operate under the name Merit Health.

“We are now all part of the same network. We are not fighting over patients. We are trying to serve our community as best as we can, and make sure we can take care of it the best we can,” Pearson said.

Service lines that are now offered within the new system are the women’s maternal services, which include obstetrician and gynecological care, neonatal intensive care, Da Vinci robotic surgeries and mammograms.

Emergency room services that have an average 25-minute door to doctor time, statewide call transfer centers, level three trauma centers and senior ER tracks.

The orthopedic service line includes the Marshall/Steele program.

“I am real proud of this program. It is something we have just brought to River Region. This is a program to get patients better quicker. It’s a 30-day program where you start 30-days prior to your operation. You go through all the steps of learning about your care, learning about the pre/op care as well as the exercises you are going to be doing,” he said.

Merit Health is also home to the Joseph M. Still Burn and Reconstruction Center located at Merit Health Central and behavioral health services are offered at three campuses, Pearson said.

“We have five different offerings for behavioral health. We have adult psych, geriatric psych, two chemical dependency units and adolescent services,” he said.

Merit Health is also in the process of building a 64,000 square foot facility at Merit Health River Region, which is located next to the existing hospital on U.S. 61 N.

“This will house the physicians that are currently at the Street Clinic,” Pearson said, and it will have state of the art medical office and diagnostic equipment.

The first floor of the building will hold the outpatient physical therapy clinic, which is currently in the basement of the Street Clinic.

Pearson said Merit Health is continuing to move forward by recruiting physicians that can offer new services to the community, and they are also reaching out to industries.

“We are trying to find ways to meet the needs of your specific company and your employees,” Pearson said.

Merit Health is now the largest health care system in Mississippi Pearson said, and along with Merit Health River Region, the facilities include Central Mississippi Medical Center, in Jackson, River Oaks Hospital and Woman’s Hospital, in Flowood, Crossgates River Oaks Hospital, in Brandon, and Madison River Oaks Medical Center in Canton. Merit Health also has 36 affiliated clinics.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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