St. Vincent’s St. Clair unveils new services

Story by Carol Pappas
Photo by Jerry Martin

It hasn’t even been a year yet since St. Vincent’s St. Clair opened its doors in a new, state-of-the-art hospital. But new services continue to be added, employee rosters are growing, and use is up by double digit percentages.

Interim President of Rural Hospital Operations Kidada Hawkins can’t conceal his satisfaction with the positives that are happening from one end of the hospital to the other. He took the reins four months ago after Sean Tinney’s promotion to president of St. Vincent’s East.

He can’t help but smile as he outlines the progress being made and the opportunities that lie ahead.

On July 31, Advanced Wound Center opened. New specialists have joined a growing team of St. Clair-based physicians. A sleep diagnostic center opens this fall. At least 25 new, full time employees have been added since November, and the mammoth upswing in the numbers of patients being seen in the hospital effectively tell this success story.

Over the same six-month period year over year, Emergency Department usage is up 38 percent. Admissions rose 14 percent. Outpatient physical therapy, 28 percent; outpatients CT scans, 86 percent; and MRIs, up 49 percent.

Those impressive numbers coupled with services and programs added or about to be added have St. Vincent’s officials confident in a bright future for the hospital and the community it serves.

“I’m proud of the staff,” Hawkins said. He noted their efforts during 18 months of planning “to get down to moving patients” from the old hospital, the successful move and the days since have given officials ample reason to be optimistic about what has happened thus far and what lies ahead.

Two hyperbaric oxygen chambers were delivered and installed in June, and the wound care center opened just days ago. “I’m really excited about that program,” Hawkins said. It is the first of its kind in the St. Vincent’s System and the only one in the county.

What that means for patients with chronic and non-healing wounds is advanced treatment close to home that can help improve the quality of their lives. Vascular surgeon Dr. Robert Heidepriem, who will be certified in wound care, will have privileges at the new center. Long time St. Clair County physician, Dr. Barry Collins, will be certified in wound care and be participating as well. Phillip Hadley Jr. is the program director for the Advanced Wound Center, and Dr. James West, who is also certified in wound care and is a general surgeon, is the medical director of the entire center.

In the fall, the hospital’s sleep center opens to help diagnose disorders, like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Fazal Rahim, MD, neurologist is board certified in sleep medicine and will be the medical director of the sleep center. “As opposed to traveling, you can get that care right here,” Hawkins said.

Advanced, quality care close to home is the driving force behind what is happening at St. Vincent’s St. Clair, and it is attracting more and more specialists.

The physician specialties list includes newly added nephrology and vascular surgery, in addition to gastroenterology, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, general surgery, ear, nose and throat.

New gastroenterologists on staff are: Drs. William Lopez, Rohit Malik, Mukul Mehra and Mohit Mehra. New otolaryngology staff, commonly referred to as ENTs, are Peyton Colvin, MD, and Bruce Morgan, MD.

Through an outpatient time share, doctors from other areas of the St. Vincent’s System are able to establish “virtual practices” at the St. Clair hospital, saving local residents from traveling to Birmingham for specialty care. “We’re keeping health care at home,” Hawkins said, underscoring the point with the statistic that outpatient visits are up 17 percent at the new hospital.

“Our patient satisfactions scores are through the roof,” Hawkins said. And, he expects the hospital will earn accreditation by The Joint Commission, a new milestone for the facility. “The staff is dedicated to providing quality care, and I’m proud and appreciative.”

— Article courtesy of Discover St. Clair
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