Friday, June 29, 2012

TOP STORY >> Geriatric unit marks milestone

Leader staff writer

Brows were wiped of sweat and chilled water was guzzled Friday afternoon in the triple-digit weather during the 20th anniversary celebration of North Metro Medical Center’s Transitions, the largest geriatric psychiatry unit in the state.

Transitions opened at the Jacksonville hospital with just 12 beds on July 1, 1992. Since then, it has grown to 31 beds with the last expansion on July 1, 2010, said chief nursing officer Jacque Davidson.

Davidson said, “When the doors opened 20 years ago, we’re not sure they were expecting it be as successful as it has been.”

While the unit was expanding, the hospital that housed it was renamed Rebsamen Medical Center, dropping regional from its name.

A few years ago, the hospital was renamed North Metro Medical Center.

Transitions prides itself on staff longevity, Davidson said.

She said Dr. Paul Valentine-Stone has been the unit’s internal-medicine physician since it opened. Turner-Stout has been with Transitions since 2000 Dr. Andrew Powell, the unit’s medical director, has provided psychiatric care to the unit’s patients since 2006.

Transitions officials say they have retained many nurses and patient-care technicians for more than 10 years.

The party had to be held outside, on the patio at the back of the hospital, due to the sensitive nature of the patients’ conditions, explained Crystal Hutchinson with Transitions. She organized the event.

Davidson stepped in at Friday’s event for Transitions director Debbie Turner-Stout, who was unavailable.

She said the one thing that hasn’t changed is how Transitions serves the community with “trust, dedication and teamwork.”

Although there were a few good-natured jokes about how everyone could stand it a couple of degrees hotter, most of the guests were in good spirits while they enjoyed hot dogs and hamburgers grilled by First Arkansas Bank and Trust employees.

Several complimented the chocolate cake with puffy white icing. It also featured hardened chocolate made to look like overflowing fondue and had a chocolate-covered strawberry in each of the four corners.

The cake was provided 2 Sisters Catering of North Little Rock.

Louisiana-based Allegiance Health Management Group, which has managed North Metro for the past three years, officially purchased the hospital from the city in April.

Jodi Love was hired earlier this month to take over for Jay Quebedeaux, who had been the hospital’s CEO since February 2011.

She has lived in Arkansas for more than two decades and has ties to Little Rock Air Force Base. Love attended the “Transitions Birthday.” She greeted most of the 30 or 40 people there one-on-one and praised the unit for making it this far.

Quebedeaux transferred to a CEO position with another Allegiance-owned facility in Louisiana, where he was born.