Rehab center celebrates 5 years, reflects on improvements

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Unusual sights are normal in Singing River Hospital's Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center. On a typical afternoon, one can see patients lifting weights, riding a stationary bike, or even bouncing a ball down a hallway. That's what patient Mac Myers was doing when WLOX dropped in.

It's a simple motion, that just a week ago might have been impossible for Myers. By watching his therapy session, it's hard to tell he had part of his lung removed just a few weeks ago.

"I was too weak to go home," Myers said about his hospital stay before entering the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center one week ago.  Now, his doctors say he's almost strong enough to leave the hospital at last.

"They'll teach you how to walk, how to talk," he said of the center.  "Pretty much anything you can think of, they can do."

Doctors and administrators said Myers' journey is one of the many success stories in the unit's five year history.  The unit's doctors, nurses and therapists treat a wide array of patients with many different ailments.

"We get patients that are stroke patients, hip fractures," listed Program Director Jerry Hotchkiss. "Neuropathy, which is nerve problems, we get some respiratory, we have some joint replacements."

The list goes on from there.  Hotchkiss said in the last five years they've increased patient capacity and increased the number of patients they send home, instead of to other facilities.

"It was sitting about 60-70 percent [patients sent home] toward the beginning," Hotchkiss said.  "In the past six to eight months, almost a year now, it's been about 80-82 percent that go home each month."

Comprehensive Rehabilitation units are each given what's called a FIM score, or Functional Independence Measure.  Medical Director Dr. Tom Stevens said the center's ratings soar above the national average.

"We here have FIM scores that are in the realm of five or six points higher than the national average," Stevens said.  "So you have a small community with an exceptional facility that performs much better than the national average."

Stevens recently came to Singing River Health System from Mobile.  He said he's pleasantly surprised at the quality of care he found in the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center.

"I would argue that you would not find anything of this caliber in any other community hospital, especially a community of this size," Stevens said.

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