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FirstHealth of the Carolinas

Aberdeen resident Roscoe Eayres started coming to FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital 11 years ago for the blood transfusions he needs for his myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). At the time, outpatient oncology and hematology services were provided in the hospital basement and there was only enough space for three or four treatment chairs.

Later, Eayres recalls, the outpatient service moved to a room near the cafeteria, where there was space for eight or 10 chairs, and then to an area in the Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center that could accommodate 16 patients at one time.

Roscoe Eayres and Lou Anne Griffin, R.N., at the Outpatient Cancer Center.

In the spring of 2007, the hospital’s outpatient chemotherapy and hematology services and the offices and clinics of the cancer physicians at Pinehurst Medical Clinic moved to the new FirstHealth Outpatient Cancer Center. The newly renovated facility is located in the building on Page Road that previously housed the hospital’s Ambulatory Surgery Center and has the capacity for 28 patients.

It also has enough space to allow the service to keep pace with patient needs over the next several years as well as provide office and clinic space for additional cancer physicians.

According to Kerry Husted, administrative director of Pharmacy/Oncology Service Line, the center brings physicians and hospital services together for more streamlined and coordinated care. “With physicians’ offices now in the same building where patients are receiving therapy, physicians and nurses can work together more closely and more efficiently to provide the best treatment for each patient,” she says.

Ellen Willard, M.D., an oncologist and hematologist with Pinehurst Medical Clinic and medical director of the Outpatient Cancer Center, says that having physicians nearby makes for good patient care. “It is much easier for us to evaluate patients who have problems while they are getting their chemotherapy, because the physician or nurse practitioner can just walk over and see them,” she says.

Eayres, a retired New Jersey police captain who needs two units of blood each week to combat the extreme fatigue that accompanies his condition, likes the new environment.

“It’s just nice,” he says. “It’s got a nice atmosphere.”

Donald White did his homework when he was looking for the right hospital for his bariatric surgery.

The 51-year-old White learned that there were two BlueCross BlueShield Bariatric Centers of Excellence in the area, and he looked into both, interviewing the surgeons and asking the same questions. He decided on the bariatric program at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, bypassing the one that is actually closer to his home in Raleigh, after talking with Kenneth Mitchell, M.D., and learning about the pre-surgical testing and post-surgical follow-up that the program offers to every patient.

Bariatric surgeons Raymond Washington, M.D., and Kenneth Mitchell, M.D.

White’s surgery, on March 27, 2007, went “as smooth as silk,” he says. “Really, I couldn’t have asked for better.”

Because Dr. Mitchell and his staff encouraged him to be in the best possible shape for his surgery, White joined a gym and lost 18 pounds before he even entered the hospital. “I was back in the gym after 30 days,” he says of his surgical experience.

Now White goes to the gym five days a week and plays golf twice a week. His sleep apnea is gone, so is the arthritis in his shoulder and knees, and his blood pressure is normal. He lost 50 pounds within 30 days of his surgery and 130 pounds within six months. His body fat dropped from 58 to 24 percent, and he lost 18 pant sizes—again within six months. His medications disappeared, and the only pills he now takes are vitamins.

“I feel like the dog that has been in the pen all his life,” White says. “They’ve opened the door for me, and now I can run.”

Dr. Mitchell established Moore Regional’s bariatric program, the only one in the mid-Carolinas, in 1999. By fall 2007, Dr. Mitchell and Raymond Washington, M.D., another general and bariatric surgeon with Pinehurst Surgical, had performed almost 1,000 bariatric surgeries (more than 140 this calendar year alone) and conducted information sessions for prospective bariatric patients in Pinehurst, Raleigh, Sanford, Asheboro and Rockingham. Bariatric support groups in Pinehurst and Raleigh allowed patients to stay abreast of the latest information about their condition while bonding with others who have had the same experience.

Also during 2007, the Bariatric Center joined the Chest Center of the Carolinas, the Esophageal Center, the Infectious Diseases Center, the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, Pain Clinic, Arrhythmia Center and Outpatient Behavioral Services in the new Specialty Centers Building on the Moore Regional campus. (See the related story.)

In addition to its BlueCross BlueShield designation, the Bariatric Center at Moore Regional has been designated a Center of Excellence by the American Society of Bariatric Surgery and attracts patients from throughout the mid-Carolinas. If Donald White has anything to do with it, even more patients will be coming to Moore Regional from outside the area.

“I’ve had lots of people ask me where to go, and I tell them,” says White, who had even more reason to be sold on the quality of Moore Regional’s program within a few days of his surgery.

He had been out of the hospital only a few days and was getting some R&R at the beach when he bumped one of his tubes and popped a blood vessel. Concerned, he found the cell phone number that Dr. Mitchell had given him in case he had questions or a problem and called him up.

It was 10:30 on a Saturday night.

Dr. Mitchell answered and told me what to do,” White says. “The next morning, he called me again.”


Patients and staff alike have noticed a difference in the treatment areas in the Center for Rehabilitation–Troy at FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital.

There’s more room, more privacy, and less waiting time for treatment areas and exercise equipment.

“Our staff has also indicated the larger space allows for expanded treatment times, and there is less need for patients to clear the treatment area so another patient can begin treatment,” says the center’s manager Michael Shutt.

Some of the recent renovations to the Center for Rehabilitation occurred in previously existing space and resulted in the more efficient use of the outpatient gym area. “When additional space was also required, three managers’ offices were converted into private treatment rooms, doubling the number,” Shutt says.

There’s more room, more privacy and less waiting time for treatment and exercise equipment in the renovated Center for Rehabilitation-Troy at FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital.

Other changes to the area included the following:

  • Cabinets were added to the outpatient occupational therapy treatment room
  • Walls were removed to expand the outpatient rehab gym
  • A large hi-lo matt table was added to the outpatient treatment gym
  • Permanent parallel bars and a treadmill were placed in the outpatient treatment gym.

The Center for Rehabilitation takes up 1,650 square feet on the hospital’s second floor at the entrance to Outpatient Registration. Two full-time physical therapists, one PRN physical therapist, two full-time physical therapy assistants, a part-time occupational therapist and a full-time office coordinator comprise the seven-member staff of the center, which by late October had recorded a 30 percent increase in outpatient PT activity over the previous year.

The center’s outpatient program provides physical therapy to patients with diagnoses ranging from neck/low-back pain to total joint replacement, and occupational therapy for such conditions as carpel tunnel, arthritis, elbow pain/fracture and functional activity difficulty related to neurological deficits.

The staff also provides inpatient rehab on the hospital’s Swing Bed unit for patients recovering from stroke, joint replacement, cardiac disease, fracture and trauma.

“In a rural setting, you have to be prepared to successfully treat a wide variety of diagnoses,’ Shutt says. “I am very pleased with the teamwork and quality staff we have at Montgomery Memorial.”