Hospital Faces Progress With New Technology, Equipment, Staff

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Payson Regional Medical Center is using new technology to provide patients with topnotch care, as well as access to premier specialists in the state. This is just one of the improvements the hospital added during the past year.

"2002 was another tremendously successful year for us," PRMC CEO Chris Wolf said. "We have continued to upgrade the medical facilities available to residents by adding several new services and large pieces of equipment."

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Payson Regional Medical Center's crew in charge: Chris Wolf, CEO; Karen Amen-Hinshaw, Chief Nursing Officer; Missy Spencer, Assistant CEO; and David Nosaka, Chief Financial Officer.

In 2002, PRMC spent almost $2.25 million on vital patient care equipment such as an MRI, cardiac echo ultrasound, a mammography unit, and many other large and small pieces of equipment and medical instruments.

Some new services that PRMC now offers patients are cardiac stress testing, cardiac echoes, and a clinic focused on sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

The hospital's telemedicine program continues to expand. One of its latest applications focuses on movement disorders in which patients can be diagnosed and treated by specialists at Good Samaritan hospital in Phoenix.

Herb Schwager, Ph.D., whose efforts over the past several years have enabled PRMC to continue developing the telemedicine program, believes many of the patients who have movement disorders and chronic pain will benefit.

"First, the program allows the patient to see a specialist sooner, and second, the consulting doctor is supplied with the patient's case history in advance of the session," Schwager said. "That familiarity translates well to the patient."

"For a rural community to have experts like those we are connected with through this technology is phenomenal," Wolf said.

"It is state of the art for a rural community."

The latest addition in telemedicine is telepathology. By use of current technology, images of tissue biopsies can be sent to the University of Arizona's Medical Center. There, one of the center's seven expert pathologists can evaluate any pathology or disease that may be visible in the biopsy.

"We're connected with the University of Arizona down in Tucson where they have a group of seven pathologists who specialize in different fields of pathology," Wolf said.

"What makes that a real advantage for us here is that we truly have one of the strongest pathology groups anywhere in the state."

"We have one pathologist on staff here who is a generalist," PRMC Administrator Missy Spencer said. "Now we can have access all the time to pathologists, and specialized pathologists."

Wolf said the technology for digitally sending the information is coming soon.

Beyond the expanding services, the hospital is physically expanding.

"We recently completed a 14,000-square-foot addition which includes additional medical and surgical beds and a Women's Services Wing at a cost of $5.1 million," Spencer said. "The administrative wing also received a face lift including paint and minor renovations."

Spencer also describes what is coming to the new Main Street extension.

"In late 2002, we began design of new offices to house rehabilitation services, the Payson Healthcare physicians and an outpatient imaging center," Spencer said. "The offices will be located in the medical offices building currently under construction on the Main Street extension.

"We're looking at putting in an outpatient imaging center in one of the office buildings on the new Main Street extension," Spencer said. "We want half of the building dedicated to women so they can go and seek those type of services such as screening mammography and ultrasound in a private setting."

"We want to streamline it and make it easier for women to access the services without the onerous registration process at the hospital," Spencer said.

"Soothing and discrete is what we are aiming for," Spencer said.

"The way we've designed the building is really kind of neat. The purely women's services are against the wall and the shared services are in the middle," Spencer described. "You can access them from both sides, but the sides are kept separate for privacy."

Wolf says that having the Imaging Center means that you won't end up waiting, as sometimes occurs at the hospital if there is an emergency that delays your appointment for such tests as an ultrasound.

With ambitious plans for the coming year, Wolf is looking for the personnel to compliment the expansion.

"We are excited about the future," Wolf said. "We have several new physicians starting this year including a cardiologist, an internist, two family practice physicians, and are looking to recruit more emergency room physicians."

"In 2003, we will continue to grow to meet the healthcare needs of our community."

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