"Chilton has plenty of folks with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, which results in a lot of wound care patients," says Jon Binkerd, MD, the medical director for the new wound care center at Ascension St. Vincent's Chilton.
Chilton, a 30-bed hospital, opened in 2016 and offers an emergency room, diagnostic imaging, and more than 20 specialties. When the cardiology clinic moved into its own facility last year, the hospital chose to fill that outpatient clinic space with the wound center, alongside the gastroenterology and orthopedic centers.
The new clinic is run by RestorixHealth, which manages comprehensive wound and amputation prevention centers throughout the United States in partnership with health systems.
"Our job is to eliminate the obstacles that make wound healing difficult," Binkerd says.
With a philosophy of inclusive care, the clinic's providers focus on the whole patient and work to address the cause of the wound, as well as healing it. "You don't just take care of the foot, you take care of the organism attached to the foot," Binkerd says. "This means working with an orthotist to change the way the person walks, or connecting diabetics to nutritionists, and referring people with poor blood flow in their legs to a cardiologist.
"It's nothing magical. It just involves a different perspective. Having the clinic within a hospital improves the treatment simply by having those specialists and lab services in-house. It also means patients, most of whom are elderly, don't need to travel at least 40 minutes to Birmingham or Montgomery."
Opened on December 15, the clinic will run three days a week, but Binkerd expects that to quickly expand. "This is just the beginning and Chilton County is not going to get smaller. There's a need here. And as this clinic starts having results with effective care, it will continue to grow."
In Birmingham, another new specialty center opened on an Ascension St. Vincent's campus. This one at their One Nineteen location off Highway 280. The campus not only offers medical services, such as physician specialists, outpatient surgery, diagnostics, physical therapy, and lab services, but a fitness center, spa, and wellness services to not only care for the community during illness, but also provide support to keep them well.
Their latest expansion will be a gastrointestinal clinic focused exclusively on endoscopy. Previously, that procedure had been part of the outpatient center. Four physician investors have partnered with Ascension St Vincent's for the project. "We've learned from experience elsewhere that we can deliver a much more user-friendly endoscopy experience out of a single specialty center," says Charles Dasher, Jr., MD, gastroenterologist and the medical director of the new clinic.
The Physicians Endoscopy Center at One Nineteen plans to open near the end of March. The clinic will be located on the second floor of the ambulatory building. "This will allow us to provide more patients with high quality care without having to travel," Dasher says.
The facility will offer four procedure rooms, one more than when they were part of the multi-specialty area of the campus. "This should allow us to see 15 cases per room per day instead of the eight to 12 before," Dasher says.
The focus on one just one specialty will make the difference. "When the staff is doing 100 percent endoscopy it's a much better experience for the patient," Dasher says. "If you're doing one specialty, all the staff is very skilled in endoscopy, and they never have to cover for other patients. It becomes a well-oiled machine with good work flow."
The location, which allows patients to park right outside the door, not only offers the same ease of access to this common procedure but caters to an increasing population. "That's the other driving force," Dasher says. "We recognized a growing need for high quality endoscopy services in Shelby County. A lot of patients right now are having to travel another 30 minutes further down 280 to downtown."
With new, state-of-the-art equipment and a full staff dedicated to endoscopy, Dasher says, "We're improving the patient experience, so you can complete most pre-procedure requirements prior to when you get here, you get the procedure done, then you head right back home."