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FirstHealth of the Carolinas
Introducing the FirstHealth Specialty Centers Building By MJ McKittrick and Erica Stacy
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In its own way, the building that now houses the FirstHealth Specialty Centers is something of a landmark in mid-Carolinas health care.

For many years, the building (at the corner of Memorial Drive and Page Road in Pinehurst) housed the Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, Moore County’s largest surgical practice. But after Pinehurst Surgical moved across the Moore Regional Hospital campus and into a new facility in the FirstVillage complex last year, FirstHealth of the Carolinas bought the vacated building, refurbished it and turned it into a home for a group of patient-centered medical programs.

“This is really a win-win situation,” says Stuart Voelpel, FirstHealth’s chief operating officer and president of Moore Regional Hospital. “With the purchase of the property, we recaptured a moment in the hospital’s history and initiated services that will impact the future. What better way to celebrate our past than to create an enhanced setting designed to provide for the future of our patients and community.”

According to John LeTrent, corporate director of FirstHealth Facility Services, the renovation and construction that were required to complete the project primarily involved cosmetic renovations and updating.

“Basically, we upgraded the Pinehurst Surgical Clinic to meet today’s advancing standards and to accommodate the patient care and support services it now houses in the most convenient, well laid-out manner possible,” he says.

The result is FirstHealth Specialty Centers.

What are specialty centers?
In medicine, today’s knowledge is a stepping stone to tomorrow’s solution. Each advance moves us closer to better treatments and possible cures. For patients navigating the system, however, the options may seem like a maze of specialists, tests and treatments. Sometimes, even in a world of modern miracles, a seemingly simple answer achieves great results.

The FirstHealth Specialty Centers building brings together all of the components necessary to diagnose, treat and follow up with patients experiencing specific conditions, such as those of the chest or esophagus. The building also houses programs that address pain management, infectious disease and wound care among other diagnostic and treatment procedures.

By encouraging medical professionals to combine their expertise, the FirstHealth centers strive to improve patient outcomes and effectively educate the community. Together, these organized groups of medical specialists coordinate care for patients in a single setting. Imagine transforming a mega-mall into a highly specialized community shopping center. With just one visit, you could expect to purchase everything you needed for a specific situation.

“The advantage is simple,” says Cindy Mooney, R.N., Specialty Centers director. “We target those services and physicians necessary to manage a particular health issue and bring them directly to the patient. Our service emphasizes a team approach from the initial diagnosis to development of a treatment plan and beyond.”

Previously existing clinics and services now operate under the Specialty Centers umbrella. “I expect the model to evolve into more arenas throughout time,” says Cheryl Batchelor, Moore Regional Hospital’s executive director of Clinical Operations. “However, not all diagnoses would benefit from this sort of arrangement. Every decision will be made with consideration for the best patient service and outcomes as well as the varying types of diseases involved.”

What is in the building?
Services now available at the Specialty Centers building were previously scattered across the Moore Regional Hospital campus. Patients had to travel from one area to another for appointments, tests and consultations, and that often created frustration and increased anxiety.

“A patient once told me, ‘The worst part of a cancer diagnosis is the waiting,’” Mooney says. “We’ve taken steps to react in a timely fashion with respect to the physical as well as the emotional needs of our patients.”

Seven medical programs are now housed on the first floor of the Specialty Centers building. They are:

  • The Chest Center, which focuses on medical issues related to organs in the chest cavity, such as lung and esophageal cancer. This center has been serving patients since 2004, and its overwhelming success and patient satisfaction ratings encouraged the development of similar services for specific diseases and treatments.
  • The Esophageal Center, which deals primarily with the upper digestive system, managing care for patients with such diagnoses as complicated cases of heartburn or acid reflux disease.
  • The Pain Clinic, which evaluates and manages the associated medical care of patients experiencing chronic pain. Such pain procedures as epidural steroid injections are performed on site.
  • The Infectious Diseases Clinic, which operates under the medical direction of Paul Jawanda, M.D., a physician who is board certified in infectious diseases. Patients with such diseases as tuberculosis, AIDS and bacterial pneumonia are diagnosed and treated through this service. “We expect that in a clinic, rather than hospital setting, it will be somewhat less intimidating for information about the prevention and medical management of infectious diseases to be presented to the public,” says Rae Williams, R.N., FirstHealth’s administrative director of Practice Management.
  • The Bariatric Center, which provides services for patients suffering from obesity and its related conditions. Patients are screened and evaluated to determine if they are candidates for bariatric (weight-loss) surgery. These patients require lifelong follow-up in terms of medical, nutritional, psychological support and counseling, and they find these services in the Bariatric Center.
  • Outpatient Behavioral Services, which offers all outpatient and chemical dependency services including individual, couple and family therapy and day treatment programs. “We are excited by the opportunities the new facility offers us,” says Behavioral Services Director Mary Silverman. “Now that we have more room to grow, we can expand our current programs and add more community-based lecture series and so on. Also, patients are able to access us more easily.”
  • The Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center, which treats individuals with chronic non-healing wounds. The Center will eventually house two hyperbaric oxygen chambers and offers state-of-theart wound treatment technology. “This is an elective, nonemergency, advanced wound care center where the focus is to monitor, manage and treat chronic, non-healing wounds,” says Batchelor. “We’ve not had the opportunity before to offer such highly specialized services.” (See related story, click here.)

The rest of the 67,000-square-foot Specialty Centers building, including the entire second floor, is devoted to FirstHealth support services. The Compliance Department, EMS administration and support, the Employee Assistance Program and Central Scheduling are housed there. So are some members of the Information Systems staff as well as the Occupational Medicine, Accounting and Volunteer Toymakers programs.

To learn more about the specific services offered through each of the clinics or to obtain additional information related to accessing care through the Specialty Centers, refer to the FirstHealth Web site at www.firsthealth.org, or call (800) 213-3284.