Partnership with BWWMH first of its kind for UAB

For more than a year the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority board worked long hours to form a partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System.

The hard work became official Oct. 1 when the two entities signed a Management and Affiliation Agreement.

At the Wednesday meeting of the Demopolis Rotary Club, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital board vice chairman Alan Bishop explained the benefits of the partnership with the hospital and to the Demopolis area. He told local Rotarians that the process has been “quite a journey.”

“The time that has been spent has been unbelievable,” he said.

Cooperation started early with the formation of a transition team of representatives from the hospital, UAB, the city and the county. Former Robertson Banking Company President Al Garrett came out of retirement to chair the team.

While UAB has expanded its medical services to Montgomery and other larger communities, the partnership with BWWMH is the first venture into rural health care. The move was made possible because of legislation in 2016 opening the door for University Health Authorities to help rural systems. The collaboration brings with it the Birmingham-based hospital’s management and expertise, marketing, physician recruitment and purchasing, Bishop said.

Such affiliation also brings with it UAB’s reputation strength, he continued.

Already in place was a recently opened branch of the University Medical Center in the Outpatient Building of the hospital, joining UMC’s two other locations in Tuscaloosa and Northport.

Two UAB officials now serve on the BWWMH board. “I thought they’d send down a couple of middle managers,” said Bishop. Instead, the two are Don Lilly, senior vice president of network development and affiliate operations, and Sean Tenney, chief operations officer for the Medical West Hospital. The two sat in their first board meeting on Oct. 26.

UAB is very conscious of its brand. Within the next two to three months, an approved UAB sign will be erected on U.S. Hwy. 80 to let everyone know of the relationship between UAB and BWWMH.

While the link with the Demopolis hospital is the first venture into rural health care for UAB, Bishop said it probably won’t be the last. Lilly’s focus has been to expand UAB’s outreach.

Such a partnership is a win-win for both facilities. With BWWMH handling cases that normally would be transferred to UAB, beds will be freed in Birmingham for more acute medical needs.

“UAB is not here just to be a nice guy,” said Bishop. “UAB is here to make money.”

The new partner is studying the survey that BWWMH conducted to determine what services are needed in the area.

BWWMH, UAB exploring potential collaboration

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System and the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority, operator of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis, Ala., have entered into a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to explore a possible relationship between the organizations. The action follows legislation passed in 2016 by the Alabama Legislature creating University Health Authorities to help Alabama hospitals.

“One of the main goals of this legislation was to help find ways to assist rural hospitals in remaining viable for the future,” said Will Ferniany, Ph.D., CEO of the UAB Health System. “This will be one of the first opportunities to utilize this legislation and explore ways in which UAB and Bryan Whitfield Memorial can work together to improve health and wellness in Demopolis and the surrounding region.”

“We are excited at the prospect of potentially working with UAB for the future benefit of providing health care for the patients we serve,” said Art Evans, CEO of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. “We look forward to our continued progress and moving forward through this process.”

About UAB

Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center, as well as Alabama’s largest employer, with some 23,000 employees, and has an annual economic impact exceeding $5 billion on the state. The five pillars of UAB’s mission include education, research, patient care, community service and economic development. UAB is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Center for Translational Science Award. Learn more at www.uab.edu. UAB: Knowledge that will change your world.

Rotary Club hears from adult psych director

Rosanne Massee speaks to the Demopolis Rotary Club on Wednesday. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Almost everyone knows a friend or family member who suffers from some form of mental illness, Rosanne Massee told members of the Demopolis Rotary Club Wednesday.

In fact, she said, one in five adults in America has or will have some form of mental illness. When it comes to serious mental illness, nearly 10 million Americans, or one in 25, experiences it.

Massee, who holds numerous degrees in nursing and behavioral health, manages the newly opened Adult Psychiatric facility at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital.

Mental illness requires treatment when it affects daily life and relationships, Massee said. The mental health programs offered by the hospital try to address those issues in order to affect recovery in the least restrictive situation.

The services at the hospital are for those 18 years of age and older. When referred, patients are evaluated by the behavioral health staff and one of the three psychiatrists on board. The client can take part in intensive outpatient services, a structured program held four hours each day. If more care is needed, patients are moved to the Partial Hospitalization Program with an interdisciplinary team overseeing their progress.

Only in the most severe cases are patients admitted to the new 10-bed inpatient unit at the hospital. Often admission is made in an emergency situation, such as attempted suicide, homicidal behavior or delusions that warrant further inpatient treatment, Massee said.

Patients usually stay between three days up to several weeks. Some are admitted voluntarily, but in other cases commitment hearings before the probate judge are held in the hospital.

Massee said the hospital admitted its first patient to the new unit in early February. It has taken a maximum of five patients as the staff gets used to the facility, and the unit will be fully opened April 12. “We’re getting better every day,” she said. “I find this an exciting time.”

The hospital only began plans to convert a section of the second floor for the Adult Psychiatric unit after an intensive needs assessment, and it had to meet rigorous standards before opening.

The semi-private rooms “are not aesthetically pleasing,” said Massee, but they are safe for both patients and staff.

The unit includes a communal room for eating and therapy sessions and a seclusion room, which, she said, the staff has “not had to use since the unit opened.”

She sees the unit as a way to give hope to those suffering from mental illness and “a chance for a good outcome.”

The hospital’s secure second floor also houses the Geriatric Psychology unit and a medical detox unit, both of which also hold 10 beds.

VFW, Bryan Whitfield Hospital hosting Veterans Day Ceremony

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital will host a Veterans Day Flag Ceremony, performed by the local VFW chapter, on Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. The ceremony will take place at the hospital’s front courtyard. The public is invited to attend.

BWWMH Physical Therapy gets festive

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The Physical Therapy Department at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital got festive Friday in the donning of Halloween garb. Pictured are Ron Nolan as a hunter, Beth Randall as a trophy deer, Kim Gibbs as Lucille Ball, Belinda Williams as Rosie the Riveter and Lacretia Edwards as the Queen of Hearts.

BWWMH utilizing Remo Drum Table in music therapy

Sounds of drumbeats sometimes can be heard in the halls of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital.

The rhythmic beating is part of the music therapy for patients in the geriatric psychiatric unit of the hospital. Bridgett McLean, board certified music therapist, took advantage of an offer by the makers of the Remo Drum Table to try out the instrument for two months, write an evaluation of it and, if desired, purchase it for half price.

“Everyone involved in the experimental process expressed enjoyment each time,” she said. “There were numerous requests for the instrument to be brought back for even more activities.”

Thanks to a $333.40 grant from the hospital’s Auxiliary, McLean now has the drum table permanently.

The drum, resting on an adjustable base, is large enough for six to a dozen people to sit around it. McLean uses it with patients exhibiting several diagnoses including dementia, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, psychosis, suicidal tendencies, depression and anxiety.

She teaches the patients various rhythms and they play along with melodies. Jazz, African and Caribbean music lend themselves to the drum table, but recently the group played along to songs by the Eagles.

During the two-month trial period, McLean observed that patients were better able to follow directions, had improved listening skills and left the session in a better mood. None of the patients showed a negative response to the use of the drum table.

The Remo Drum Table isn’t out on the market yet, said McLean, so BWWMH is among the first to be able to offer the instrument’s use to its geriatric patients.

Healthcare on Wheels – July 25-29, 2016

July 25-29 HCOW Event Calendar Flyer

HealthCare on Wheels – July 18-22, 2016

Event Calendar Flyer July 18-22

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Counselor’s Desk: Coping from the client’s perspective

There comes a time in everyone’s life where issues will arise unexpectedly. Finding a healthy way to deal with such issues, no matter how big or small, is synonymous to being able to cope with these issues as they present themselves. Many people live long lives and never find healthy and productive ways to cope with things. Therefore, I will share three of the most healthy ways I cope with troublesome news or events that come my way.

Though it is my belief that the most ideal coping mechanism one can possess is to do something healthy enough that it could ease one’s mind so much so that it could put them to sleep. The idea of coping with certain issues or mindsets, runs parallel to the feeling of being at peace with said issues.

Though everyone deals with issues differently, I believe all would agree that it is important to avoid becoming trapped in one’s mind with negative thoughts. That being said, I find it to be crucial to stay busy and occupied with healthy activities when attempting to cope with something.

Developing healthy hobbies and productive, time-consuming activities will do so much to assure one can sleep at night with a clear conscience. For example, something I do to put my mind at ease is to hit the basketball court. Even when playing alone, it consumes hours of my time and I always know my mind will not drift toward negativity. Also, any sort of exercise is great for not only the body but the mind as well.

Another healthy activity that works wonders for me, personally, is writing. No matter what it is I am writing about, I can become so immersed in my work that I lose track of how many times the hour glass has been turned over. Again, whit this, I can be alone and still have a great way to get negative thoughts out of my head and have them turn into inspiration for my writing.

One last thing I reach for when I feel I’m having trouble dealing with things is the telephone. More specifically, I call my best friend who has known me all of my life. Now, this only works because she is an extremely healthy and productive peer to have in my corner. Once we get to talking, the hours pass like seconds and I have yet to hang up with her and find myself still feeling upset. But everyone else, maybe it is a family member or any positive influence that one could confine in.

To conclude, I will reiterate the fact that everyone copes with issues differently and my particular ways may not work for all. Though, I will state that it’s far more possible than most think.

If it is you that is trying to work through something, then it is imperative to stay busy while being productive and healthy so you don’t get caught in a negative mindset. Just remember to keep that chin up, keep busy and keep believing and you will find your mind at peace far more often than ever before.

Stephen J. Root is a client of Tombigbee Outreach in Demopolis. For more information about Tombigbee Outreach, call 334-287-2428.

HealthCare on Wheels – July 11-15, 2016

Event Calendar Flyer July 11-15