Jefferson Regional Medical Center, located in Pine Bluff, provides quality care through the South Central Center on Aging and other specialty centers.
Pine Bluff’s Jefferson Regional Medical Center brings cutting-edge health care right into Jefferson County’s backyard. The 471-bed hospital has more than 1,800 employees and serves around 280,000 patients from 11 southeast Arkansas counties.
One of the hospital’s strengths is its role in training and retaining expert health-care professionals. In partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the hospital has operated the Area Health Education Center since 1973. Fledgling health professionals attend the center to receive training and mentoring in a variety of disciplines, including surgery, radiology, respiratory care and ultrasonography.
JRMC also operates its own School of Nursing, which has graduated around 1,000 registered nurses since its inception in 1981. Many of those nurses, along with a large number of AHEC graduates, have chosen to stay and work in Jefferson County.
Specializing in Cardiac, Geriatric Care
Another strength of JRMC is its range of specialty care. The hospital’s cardiology department is one of its busiest, with procedures and treatments that include angiography, 64-slice CT, balloon and stent procedures, pacemaker and defibrillator implantation and open-heart surgery. The quality of care in the department has even earned praise from The Joint Commission, which named JRMC a national leader in treatment of heart attack and heart failure in 2011.
The hospital also operates several off-campus specialty centers. Two wellness centers in Pine Bluff and White Hall provide fitness classes on an extended schedule. Other facilities include HealthCare Plus, which provides urgent and occupational care, the JRMC Wound Center and an outpatient physical therapy clinic.
Another key specialty center is the South Central Center on Aging, located in Pine Bluff. The center, which is part of a statewide network of similar facilities, is affiliated with both JRMC and UAMS.
Dr. Dale Terrell, the center’s director and geriatrician, says the JRMC connection is key to providing quality care.
“Thanks to hospital subsidies, we can do mental function testing, which the average doctor doesn’t have time to do, and offer social services, which the average doctor can’t afford,” he says.
Those subsidies also allow Terrell to see fewer patients – about 70 per week, which is roughly half the usual workload for a geriatrician. That means Terrell gets more time with each patient, and he has the freedom to keep up with the latest research in his field. He is also able to attend regular meetings in Little Rock, where the state’s Center on Aging directors educate each other.
“That means my patients get the most current medical advice,” Terrell says. “People who come in for a second opinion or with questions from other doctors can get them answered.”
Educating for Better Health
In addition to medical care, the Center on Aging offers educational programs to help patients with total quality of life. Provided free of charge, the programs include Medicare enrollment assistance, tai chi classes, drug rebates, workshops on age-related conditions and more.
There is also a multiweek training course for in-home caregivers of the elderly. Caregivers can take the entire course to earn caregiver certification or just attend specific sessions that fit their situations.
Terrell says his favorite part of his job is seeing measurable improvement in his patients’ health and quality of life.
“It’s like a detective story, in the sense that you can usually find what’s causing the patient’s symptoms if you have the time and the training to sort it out,” he says. “It’s rewarding to have a patient come in, go out with a solution and call back a few weeks later to say they’re a whole lot better.”
He also loves teaching residents at the hospital, where he helps train the next generation of geriatricians.
“Our affiliation with JRMC enables us to do good work,” Terrell says. “We can offer a service to the community that would not be there otherwise.”