HURLEY, MS (WLOX) - The East Central Medical Center is part of a regional health system, but the people who gathered to celebrate its expansion Tuesday said it has a community feel. Now, the North Jackson County clinic is ready to welcome more patients. Singing River Health System held a ribbon cutting to celebrate its newly expanded facilities.
"These are my friends if I need anything I can just come," said patient Mary Wrigley, who stood outside Tuesday afternoon.
The East Central Health Center serves nearly a thousand north Jackson County residents every month. It's not a full-service hospital, but Patient Mary Wrigley says the neighborhood facility saved her life. She went to the clinic one day complaining of chest pain, and would have never guessed she had two blood clots in her lungs.
"I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the clinic," said Wrigley. "I got up here, couldn't breathe, Pam took a look at me and Dr. Smith, and I was in an ambulance all the way to Providence Hospital for a specialist."
Now the clinic that has served the Hurley community faces a new challenge of providing healthcare services for a growing population. Health System officials said the million dollar expansion will allow the facility to house more patients.
"We realize that folks don't want to just have to come to the hospital anymore," said Greg Shoemaker, Executive Vice President of Business Development. "They want, and technology allows, testing and x-rays to be done in a much more convenient environment than it used to. So consumers know that, patients know that, so we want it to be as easy as possible."
The physical therapy department is getting the most out of this new expansion. They're getting a brand new separate entrance, and a new gym, that more than doubles the size of the old one.
"We've outgrown [the current] space, so we're excited about moving into a much larger area," said Kim Boler, the Physical Therapy Clinic Director. "So that we can accommodate more patients as the area grows here in Hurley."
Boler said the increased population north of the coast has created a greater need for physical therapy services. New state-of-the-art equipment will go into the gym soon.
The expanded building will also have expanded hours. The physical therapy department will open five days each week. It currently opens three days each week. The rest of the clinic will open five days every week, including Friday afternoon. Until now, the clinic has closed after lunch Friday.
"We've hired additional providers so we can be open all day on Friday," said Shoemaker. "This has been a big request from our patients. Starting this month in May, to coincide with the addition, we're going to be open here all day on Friday."
Shoemaker said the new improvements will also make more space for visiting specialists to see Hurley patients close to home.
The clinic increased in size by 40 percent. Some of the space will remain unused, in anticipation of future growth.