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Phoebe Sumter Medical Center implements new initiatives in health, wellness

AMERICUS — For Phoebe Sumter Medical Center (PSMC), 2015 was a busy and productive year. Brandi Lunneborg, CEO of PSMC, hit the ground running in her first year as CEO, implementing new initiatives directed at improving hospital operations, and community health and wellness.
• One area PSMC focused on last year was rural healthcare in Southwest Georgia and becoming a more collaborative force in the region. The medical center spearheaded a regional advisory council (RAC), which brought community leaders from the eight counties the hospital serves to address the acute healthcare challenges of rural Georgians. The hospital held town hall meetings across the region last fall to discuss the current state of healthcare in Southwest Georgia and opportunities that might be able to help citizens in those areas.
“This was a great opportunity for us to talk to citizens in areas we serve and listen to their concerns regarding access to healthcare,” said Lunneborg.
PSMC also hosted a rural health summit, sponsored by state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, D-Albany. The summit covered a variety of topics concerning the area and even received attention from Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who also attended the summit.
• Additionally, last summer PSMC launched a pilot paramedicine program through a grant the hospital received. The hospital worked with local emergency medical services (EMS) in Sumter County to provide follow-up visits to patients who were recently discharged from Phoebe Sumter in an effort to help prevent readmissions or return visits to the Emergency Department.
Before a patient is discharged from the hospital, a case management nurse visits patients with congestive heart failure  — the first condition addressed by the program — to inform them about the program. Within 72 hours of discharge, patients who opt in to the program will receive a follow-up visit from a paramedic. The patient receives helpful supplies, individualized medical care, including health education and coaching, nutrition counseling, and medication review.
Because the program has been so successful, PSMC has continued to offer it to residents in Sumter County and will be expanding the program to six other counties this year, which will include Dooly, Macon, Marion, Schley, Stewart, and Webster.
“A lot of our patients do not have a primary care physician or a regular doctor, and access to healthcare is difficult for them,” said Lunneborg. “The paramedicine program provides guidance and learning for patients who are often times overwhelmed with information after being discharged from the hospital, thus helping to prevent readmissions.”
Though the program is only open to patients who have been hospitalized due to illness related to congestive heart failure right now, Lunneborg says they hope to later add diabetes care and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease care.
• The hospital already offers a broad array of specialty services, including bariatrics. In October 2015, Phoebe Bariatrics expanded its weight-loss surgery options to include gastric bypass — making the program at Phoebe Sumter all-inclusive.
“We are pleased to offer the most comprehensive bariatric program in our region,” states Lunneborg. “Our physicians, Dr. Jeremy Joyner and Dr. Sean Sheff, were both fellowship-trained in bariatrics at top ranking programs. And the support patients receive from Misty Willis, RN and Ashley Patterson, RD, our clinical coordinator and registered dietician, creates excellent outcomes for patients who have struggled to lose weight and improve their health on their own.”
• PSMC was recognized last year both at the state and national level. In June, the hospital was named the 2015 Most Beautiful Hospital in the U.S., and in December was ranked No. 9 among the state’s small hospitals by Georgia Trend magazine in its annual Top Hospitals report.
• The year 2016 has already proven to be a busy year for the hospital as it recently unveiled a new look and voice, which is part of Phoebe Putney Health System’s overall rebranding campaign. Over the years, the Phoebe brand has evolved from a single hospital to an integrated healthcare system, and this rebrand reflects that evolution.
During a press conference held at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, President/CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System Joel Wernick introduced the core elements of the new Phoebe brand, including completely redesigned logo and a new tag line: “a better way.”
“The new Phoebe brand emphasizes our focus on offering a high-quality full continuum of care within our health system along with supporting the health and wellness goals of our communities,” says Lunneborg. “Healthcare is in a state of rapid change as an industry and Phoebe is committed to always finding ‘a better way’ to meet the needs of those we serve.”
Looking ahead in 2016, Lunneborg says the hospital’s goal is to become the regional provider of choice my improving key measures of quality, efficiency and service.
“We will focus on performance improvement aimed at reducing patient wait times in multiple services, further building on our already positive outcomes on national quality metrics, and identifying ways we can support the needs of the communities throughout the region for necessary healthcare services,” she said.