Modern Medicine

Payson Regional Medical Center expands its services


Progress for 2004 at Payson Regional Medical Center has been multifaceted. PRMC continues to expand its services to residents of the Rim country by recruiting more doctors to the area; helping provide nurse's training for staff members; and bringing in one of Arizona's five state-of-the-art imaging systems.

"We know we need quality physicians and we have been doing our best to bring them to Payson and keep them here," said Cory Houghton, with the PRMC marketing department.


Kristen Kivett, director of diagnostic imaging, shows off the tool used by PRMC to check bone density. The patient is positioned on the bed and the unit slides down to the pelvic area for an image.

In the last 18 months, Houghton said, the hospital has attracted several new physicians, including: Dr. Peter Zonakis, ears, nose and throat; Dr. Karen Evans and Dr. Robert Frayser, both family practice; Dr. Scott Horan, family practice in Heber-Overgaard; Dr. Kye Evans, emergency room physician at PRMC; Dr. Jason Cool, cardiologist; and Dr. Jennifer Cool, internal medicine.

More recently, due to the efforts of PRMC, the Rim country medical community has been joined by:

  • Dr. Kent Walker Cox, specializing in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery and facial plastic surgery. He shares office space with Dr. Zonakis at 903 E. Highway 260, Suite 3;
  • Dr. Steven Lee, who specializes in general surgery and works at Banner Health Center, 708 Coeur D'Alene Lane;
  • Dr. Olivia Morris, who specializes in sports medicine and advanced surgical and rehabilitation techniques. She works at Rim Country Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery, 126 E. Main St., Suite A;
  • Coming in June, Dr. Amalia Pineres, who specializes in family practice, will be opening Alma Medical Clinic in Dr. Mark Ivey's building, 1106 N. Beeline Highway, and also will be spending Monday and Tuesdays at the Tonto Basin medical facility, as well as every other Friday.

Nurses on PRMC's wish list

Houghton said PRMC is actively recruiting nurses, and has helped staff members pursue degrees in nursing and certification as radiology technicians.

One non-medical staff member working on a nursing degree is Patti Christensen, who works in the hospital's accounting department.

With help from PRMC and the Mogollon Health Alliance, Christensen is getting her required undergraduate studies for an associate nursing degree online through Rio Salado College.

"I was a candy striper and a nurse's aide, I worked in the lab and as a ward clerk," Christensen said. "My mother, Billie Murray, worked here for 15 years, so I grew up in the old part of the hospital. I love the medical field."

Because she was not working on the medical side, she said she had to do some persuading, but everyone has been very supportive of her efforts.

Christensen said Houghton brought the possibility of going into nursing to her attention in late summer. After talking it over with her family, Christensen made the leap. She has already completed two classes.

"Online, the courses go much faster," she said.

Eventually, she will have to make the trip into a regular classroom setting for specialty areas, such as her psychiatric and pediatric training. Until then, she will be attending school on the Internet at home after work.

"I don't know how long it will take," Christensen said. "I'm still working full-time and being a wife and mother. I'm thrilled, but I'm scared too."

Because of the financial assistance she is receiving, when Christensen earns her degree she must commit time to working as a nurse for PRMC.

"I'm getting to live a dream," she said. "I'd like it to be over tomorrow, because I'd like to be a nurse right away, and they're needed now."

To get young people interested in the medical field PRMC started a "Voluteen" program in 2004, Houghton said. Students, 14 years of age or older, with a referral from their school, can learn about areas of interest and get some hands-on experience with some medical jobs.

Technology takes giant leap

Kristen Kivett, director of diagnostic imaging for PRMC, made arrangements in 2004 to bring in a highly sophisticated tool to the radiology department: the Brilliance CT system. It is one of only five such machines in the state, Houghton said.

It will make it possible to do organ studies, coronary artery and pulmonary imaging and critical care. It can do comprehensive organ assessment within seconds, providing a high level of detail which has tremendous impact on the accuracy of a diagnosis. The system is designed to address patient comfort concerns as well. With patients more comfortable, technologists' jobs are easier.

The exam table has extra padding for optimal patient support, plus accessories to prevent fatigue and discomfort and provide a sense of security. It is equipped with multi-lingual communication technology and a noiseless design than calms patients.

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