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Southeast Alabama Families Have Access to Multiple Health-Care Options

Regional medical centers and community hospitals provide convenient access to quality care.

By Teree Caruthers on October 14, 2014

Choice is one of Southeast Alabama’s greatest amenities, particularly when it comes to health care.  The area boasts four major medical facilities – Southeast Alabama Medical Center and Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Troy Regional Medical Center and Andalusia Regional Hospital – as well as several community hospitals throughout the region.

Healthy Competition

Competition can be steep for two hospitals in the same city, but for Southeast Alabama Medical Center and Flowers Hospital, that competition benefits the patients because it forces the hospitals to strive for excellence in terms of quality and innovation, says Karen Wortmann, director of professional services for Flowers Hospital.

“Having the competition between two excellent hospitals means we’ve had to keep abreast of the latest technology and innovations –  da Vinci surgery, a hybrid cath lab, a bi-plane cardiac cath lab. We have more state-of-the-art [equipment] than a lot of big cities have. As a result, the region has excellent health care,” Wortmann says.

Both hospitals, for example, use the Varian Trilogy Linear Accelerator, which allows oncologists and radiologists to more accurately target tumors for radiation treatment, shortening exposure duration for cancer patients.  Flowers’ Heart and Vascular Institute was the first with a hybrid endovascular suite, which allows surgeons to perform both traditional open-heart and minimally invasive surgeries in the same operating room, and SAMC was the only hospital in the region to use the GlucoStabilizer computer software program to monitor and manage blood glucose levels during surgery.

SAMC was also the first regional, not-for-profit hospital to build an osteopathic college to train physicians in holistic diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease. The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine opened to an inaugural class of 162 students in August 2013, becoming the state’s third medical school.

“The projections are nationwide that there will be a shortage of family physicians in the future so our board decided to start looking at the idea of opening an osteopathic medical school,” says Mark Stewart, director of community relations for Southeast Alabama Medical Center. “There are some studies that say once a student graduates from medical school, they stay and practice within a certain distance range of where they went to school. So we felt if they went to school here and conducted their internships here, then chances are they would stay here to practice medicine.”

From Birth to Baby Boomers

Southeast Alabama families are fortunate to have a host of quality care options available for every stage of life. Andalusia Medical Center in Andalusia boasts that “babies are their business.” The hospital’s Birthing Center is equipped with five labor, delivery and recovery suites that allow mom and baby to stay in the same room postpartum. The suites also have homey accommodations for visitors, such as pull-out sleeper sofas and entertainment centers.

 

The 131-bed Medical Center Enterprise offers provides a range of medical services for families, including obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine and general surgery, and has been ranked a top performer by The Joint Commission for pneumonia and surgical care.

Flowers Hospital is meeting the growing need for geriatric care in the region with the launch of additional geriatric ER services and an Acute Care for the Elderly Unit.

“The Acute Care for the Elderly Unit is a model of care specifically designed to address the needs of hospitalized older adults and to improve clinical outcomes for older patients by preventing functional decline and other complications,” Wortmann says.

Wortmann says the hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center has also implemented new programs for the elderly, such as a Balance and Fall Prevention Center and the BIG and LOUD program which encourages patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions “to keep moving, communicating better and staying active.”

The Senior Care Center at  SAMC-affiliate Medical Center Barbour offers inpatient and outpatient behavioral services and treatments geared toward seniors. The center’s team of psychiatrists, social workers and mental health professionals works with patients suffering from dementia, depression, anxiety and other behavioral disorders affecting the elderly.

Both L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital in Greenville and Mizell Memorial Hospital in Opp also offer geriatric psychological services.

Community Service

While smaller in size, the 97-bed Troy Regional Medical Center is not short on services it provides to the community. Besides traditional emergency services and inpatient and outpatient care, such as diagnostic imaging, TRMC offers home health services, community health education and geriatric care. The STATMED specialty clinic at Dale Medical Center in Ozark is equipped with diagnostic imaging and testing capabilities, allowing patients to be diagnosed and treated during the same visit.

Wiregrass Medical Center in Geneva features a 96-bed nursing home and senior care facility. Bullock County Hospital in Union Springs offers local residents emergency care services, outpatient surgery and adult psychiatric services, as well as alcohol and drug addiction treatment services through the Bradford Addiction Program. 

“Hospitals are an integral part of the community, not only in providing services when illness or injury occurs, but in providing services that maintain and improve health,” Wortmann says. “Without access to excellent health-care facilities, a community cannot market and grow.”

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