HED: NMMC hires Texas firm to assist with rehab programs

HED: NMMC hires Texas firm to assist with rehab programs

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

North Mississippi Medical Center has hired a Dallas-based firm to manage its rehabilitation programs, but officials said no major changes are planned in personnel or services as plans progress to build a facility to house those programs.

The hospital has signed an agreement with MileStone Healthcare of Dallas to provide an administrator for NMMC’s rehabilitation services as well as serving as a consultant on a rehabilitation “village” the hospital plans to start building this spring.

“We basically looked around and looked at our opportunities, and we had an opportunity to get a very experienced administrator,” said Eddie Foster, executive vice president and chief operating officer for NMMC.

Rex Macklin of MileStone has been on board with NMMC for about two months as rehabilitation programs administrator. Prior to joining NMMC, Macklin served as administrator of an acute care hospital in Pulaski, Tenn., and as administrator of Sunrise Rehabilitation Hospital, the largest rehabilitation provider in southern Florida.

Judy Crump remains as director of NMMC’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services and Nina Grice will continue as director of the hospital’s Acute Rehabilitation Services.

Macklin said he doesn’t see a need for any drastic changes in the programs.

“I don’t foresee any major changes within the organization,” Macklin said. “We were lucky to take over a good program.”

Milestone has 64 other contracts throughout the U.S. for administering rehabilitation services and Foster said that expertise will enable NMMC to handle the growing demand for those services in Northeast Mississippi.

“We’ve had 200 percent growth in the demand for rehab services over the past two years,” he said. “In the South, it’s a fairly new industry. We only got into it in ’86 or ’87.”

The aging population, with people living longer and staying active later in life, is fueling the demand, he said.

NMMC operates a 30-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit as well as two outpatient rehab programs on its Tupelo campus, although those programs are housed in five separate locations. In addition, it provides rehabilitation services at its four community hospitals in West Point, Iuka, Pontotoc and Eupora.

The hospital plans to begin construction of a 27,000-square-foot, $5.9 million rehabilitation center this spring that will consolidate all of the Tupelo-based outpatient rehab programs into one facility. Eventually, the hospital hopes to expand the project to include physicians’ offices and inpatient rehabilitation services on the 17-acre site on Eason Boulevard.

“The rehabilitation village is a major building project, and we saw a need for a good, strong administrator,” Foster said of one of the reasons MileStone was brought on board. “We felt like we needed this professional help to jump start us.”

In addition, NMMC is also hoping MileStone’s national connections will help in recruitment of new therapists.

“They will shorten our learning curve and help with the recruitment of therapists,” Foster said. “It’s actually harder to get into physical therapy (training) than it is to get into medical school” because of the demand for their services.

Money magazine, in a recent edition, picked physical therapy as one of the top 10 jobs that will be in demand in the near future.

“The biggest challenge I envision is finding capable, qualified professionals to deliver these services in the Northeast Mississippi area,” Macklin said.

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