For more than a decade, Lexington-area patients needing rehabilitative care close to home received therapy in cramped quarters at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Holmes County.
But as part of a $4 million renovation at the hospital, those needing physical, occupational or speech therapy are enjoying three private treatment rooms, an exercise area with state-of-the-art equipment, and a designated kid-friendly area where local students can receive that specialized care.
“It's been a great transformation, and a long time coming,” said Mike Lowe, UMMC Holmes County director of rehabilitative services. “We're having a great response. We have people who aren't getting therapy right now walking through, and they're just delighted that we have this if they ever need it.”
Not just rehabilitative services, but UMMC Holmes County's Emergency Department also is getting a new look at the 25-bed critical access facility originally built in 1950 as Holmes County Community Hospital. It provides care to a growing number of residents from the Holmes County region north to Grenada.
“We are blessed as an organization to be able to have this renovation project for our institution and the citizens of Holmes County,” said David Putt, CEO of both UMMC Holmes County and its sister campus, UMMC Grenada. “This gives us about three times the space we had in the other area of the hospital for rehab services, as well as giving us a state-of-the-art ED.”
“Mike and his staff now have the ability to treat more patients in this space, and they have done a wonderful job in providing a quality service to Holmes County residents and the children within the school system,” Putt said. “We are glad to have them as part of the UMMC Holmes County team.”
Three private treatment rooms give patients the seclusion they need while undergoing rehabilitation, Lowe said. A new gym area also allows patients to move about more freely and includes additional treatment mats, several televisions, two Schwinn aerodynamic bicycles, an elliptical machine, recumbent bicycle, weight machine and treadmill.
“We have extra space in the gym area for seating, walking and other things so that patients don't have to venture out into the hallways,” Lowe said. “If you are working out and getting treatment and don't need to go behind closed doors, we have specific areas for that in the gym.”
“You walk in, and we do everything right there. It's a great improvement.”
When former state Rep. Mary Ann Stevens of West came to UMMC Holmes County for rehabilitation therapy not long after the renovations were complete, “it was just like night and day,” she said.
“I was so impressed with all the new equipment, and the individual rooms for privacy,” said Stevens, the former District 48 representative, who is recuperating from a bad fall. “I can't say enough good things about Mike Lowe. He pulled me through it, and now I have wonderful use of my arm and shoulder.”
Durant High senior Juwaun Howard, 17, is getting physical therapy on his ankle from Lowe and his staff. He suffered an injury while playing football this fall as a receiver.
“I have to stand on a ball to balance myself and put a little pressure on my ankle, and I use a band to wrap around my ankle and move it in certain directions to make resistance,” Howard said. “That builds up strength.”
He likes the department's new look and will continue therapy over the next couple of weeks. “It's spacious, and the equipment is nice and up to date,” Howard said.
UMMC Holmes County's ED, which continues to treat a growing number of patients, will soon open up in space that makes it more functional, giving it six treatment rooms, a private triage area, plus a two-bed trauma room.
“There is no comparison,” Paige Lawrence, the hospital's clinical director, said of ongoing renovations to the ED located at the front of the Lexington hospital. Since April, ED operations have been temporarily located at the back of the building pending completion of construction in mid- to late January. The temporary headquarters will be converted into respiratory therapy treatment rooms and clinic space for specialists from UMMC Grenada who periodically see patients at the sister hospital.
David Walker of S&C Sound and Communications and Lawrence go over plans for renovation of the Lexington hospital's ED.
New ED features include a security station, a separate decontamination entrance, and redesign that allows for more patient privacy throughout, Lawrence said. “The old ED was not conducive to patient privacy and not conductive to patient and staff safety,” she said.
And, the hospital will continue to be a trailblazer in the use of telemergency videoconferencing in which staff in Holmes County consult with emergency medicine specialists on the Jackson campus. “We have a telemergency cart that can be used with any patient in the ED, in any room,” Lawrence said.
Greater space and organizational efficiency not only will heighten patient satisfaction and care, but “will help us decrease the amount of time it takes to get in and out of the ED,” Lawrence said. “This will reduce both wait time and throughput time.”
“We had a lot of space constraints in the old ED, and now we will have a new waiting room, security office by the front door, and larger triage area,” Putt said. “Paige and her staff are looking forward to getting into the new ED space.”