Palmyra in a 'growing mode'

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Palmyra Medical Center CEO Mark Rader is happy these days. The hospital has started to see growth on a number of levels with regard to traffic and the expansion of facilities.

In all, Palmyra has roughly $4 million in expansion projects coming into fruition before the end of the year.

One of those projects includes a renovated pediatrics unit, which has been in the design and construction phases for several months.

"It's designed to give a comfortable feeling for children, teens and their families," Rader said.

There will be an open house on the floor in the coming weeks. Once operational, it will include Wi-Fi and lactation areas for parents to utilize.

"It will be an exciting unit and we are looking forward to its opening," Rader said.

There have also been ongoing renovations in Palmyra's radiology department. In addition, hospital officials are working on developing an operating room navigational suite, for which they plan to host an open house early next month.

Once the suite is open, it will be available to orthopedic surgeons, gastrointestinal surgeons, neurosurgeons, among others, Rader said.

On Thursday, Palmyra is set to launch a childhood obesity program called "Shake Down." The 10-week program will allow families to undergo educational rotations so that experts can counsel them on how to help their children battle excessive weight gain.

"It's to give children and families the tools on how to maintain a healthy weight," explained Karen Hayes, chief financial officer at the hospital.

Along with the expansions has also come a recent increase in staff.

"With recent growth, we have hired more employees," Rader said. "We've had a 3 percent increase from last year.

"We are in more of a hiring mode."

The services offered by Palmyra to the community go beyond what is within the hospital's walls. Officials are also actively involved in conducting health fairs at area churches such as Mount Olive Baptist Church and Leesburg United Methodist Church.

"It's a good community thing to provide at no expense," Rader said. "It's a good thing for the Albany area."

In terms of traffic, Palmyra has seen an inpatient flow increase of 7 percent during the year. Emergency center traffic alone has increased by 14 percent during that time frame. That 14 percent increase is on top of the 14 percent jump from the year before.

"That's pretty impressive growth," Rader said.

The hospital opened a fast-track area in its emergency room several months ago, which officials say has resulted in a patient's time at Palmyra being shortened overall.

"We are able to treat them effectively and with quality," Rader said.

The patient length of stay at the hospital has decreased 2 percent. "It's a very positive thing for patients to not stay in the hospital," Rader said.

Experts have said that patients are sicker these days, a trend that can be blamed in part on the recent economic recession. That makes using a team approach to patient care all the more important.

"You have to have a strong team in place," Rader said. "Thirty, 40 years ago, a patient would stay for two weeks. That was normal."

Officials with the hospital say they credit the growth in their patient base to more and more patients making choices about their health care.

"Patients are more savvy; they're looking for quality these days," Hayes said.

"The community is fortunate to have a choice of where to go," Rader said. "Not every town has that."

Taking all of this into account, Rader said there is very little he would change in regards to what the hospital is doing and where it is going.

"We view everything here as a win-win," he said. "It is all very positive.

Expansion would not be possible if we were not in a growing mode.

What drives every decision we make is quality of care to patients.

"(In regards to change or improvement) I want to see the hospital grow further."