Florala hospital improving technology

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Florala Memorial Hospital has undergone a dramatic transformation since being sold two years ago.

Since then, its administrative staff has pulled the struggling rural hospital into the future as a progressive, community-based comprehensive care facility.

Constructed in 1964 by Seymour Gitenstein and members of the community, the now 25-bed hospital once housed thriving birthing and surgical units; however, as the size and needs of the community changed, so did the services at the hospital.

Since the sale, Dr. Robert Devrnja, FMH owner, and his staff have worked to not only increase the level of services, but also the community’s feelings about the hospital.

Gone are the drab walls and out-of-date equipment of the facility, and judging by the turnout at Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony for FMH’s Therapy and Wellness Center, their missions have paid off.

“This is truly one of those, ‘You have to see to believe’ cases,” said Doreen Bock, hospital administrator, of the changes at the hospital campus. “We recently achieved ‘rural health clinic status,’ which means we’re able to offer continuous services because we have not only a physician, but also a nurse practioner on staff.”

Patients are treated in upgraded rooms, using new equipment.

“For us, it’s about the continuum of care,” she said. “We started with the building and the equipment. Now, we’re working on bringing our technology forward. We’ve recently added an electronic health record systems, and now, we’re in the process of upgrading our pharmacy with the Pyxis System, which streamlines medications.”

Bock said the upgrades were a “must have” for the hospital.

“These are things that had to be done,” she said. “You can’t be complacent in the health care field.”

Bock said new programs have also been added at the hospital, which employs between 40-45 people. She said hospice services and respite care is available.

“To me, the respite care benefit is priceless to families,” Bock said. “Under the respite care, we can care for a patient for five days – giving the caregiver a much-needed break.”

One up and coming program is the new wellness program, which is set to go online soon at movingwell.net.

At the brick and mortar site, services such as physical and orthopedic therapy, manual physical therapy, sports injury rehab, stroke and total joint rehab and more are available.

Bock said the idea for the therapy and wellness center came from public input.

“We knew as a small, rural hospital we had to do something to survive and to serve the needs of our community,” she said. “In asking patients, ‘What would you like to see?,’ nine times out of 10 they said a physical therapy unit.

“When we looked at it and studied it, it made sense,” she said.