Networking program will keep seniors in Jacksonville
For some time, senior center director Wendy Thompson Bussey, Jacksonville Health and Rehab administrator Brantley Newton and Ladiga Manor owner Philip Pritchett had been thinking about how they could help Jacksonville’s residents, especially senior citizens, handle all their health issues locally.

There’s no need for them to have to go to other cities, they thought, when everything they need is available right here in Jacksonville.

Four months ago they organized Jacksonville Community Network, a committee that meets with representatives from long term heath care providers’ within the Jacksonville community, including RMC Jacksonville Hospital Genius senior emotional care director Trish Ballard.

In addition to Network Jacksonville meetings, RMC Jacksonville Hospital has community lunch and learn meetings at noon the second Wednesday of each month in the hospital’s board room. The two groups met together Feb. 13 at RMC Jacksonville to discuss how, together, they can enhance the lives of those who live here.

Joe Weaver, RMC Healthcare System’s chief operating officer, shared RMC’s plan for the Jacksonville community. He said RMC’s goal for keeping local residents who seek healthcare in Calhoun County is mirrored by JCN’s group.

A representative from Solamar Hospice was also present.

“We want to share resources to connect the dots so that we can have a circle of contacts working together to retain as many of the residents and patients for services that we each provide here in Jacksonville,” said Bussey.

According to Newton, the meetings were designed to bring together healthcare providers, community leaders and citizens in the Jacksonville area to share information regarding the services available for residents.

“For the most part,” he said, “the providers in our area offer services that cover different segments of the healthcare market, and it is important to each of us that our residents know what is available to them locally.”

For instance, he said, Jacksonville Health and Rehab is currently in the process of remodeling and expanding its short-term inpatient rehab unit to create 30 private suites and a new therapy gym.

“By presenting our plans in the networking lunch, we were able to inform the other providers about the services we have available to their customers if they need them.”

In doing this, Newton said, each provider has a better understanding of the other providers’ services which will allow them to better inform residents about the choices available to them.

Several other agencies in the community are becoming a part of the networking which, according to Bussey, is providing “great contacts within our community. This entire spectrum is about working together for the good of our community. We have one belief that we can offer our community all health care, activities, therapy services, long term heath care, assisted living and Hospice services right here in Jacksonville.”

Pritchett said he believes JCN is a valuable asset to all residents, especially seniors.

“We feel like our city and community need to know what we have to offer,” he said. “They need to know that we can provide the services they need without them having to travel to other places. Ladiga Manor is proud to be a part of it.”

In the long run, he said, all residents, especially senior citizens and their caregivers, will benefit.

“Often older patients who receive healthcare at hospitals outside Calhoun County are not discharged back into their communities,” said Ballard. “They are often discharged to rehab facilities outside the county This causes an increased burden for the patients and families.”

She said the goal of the JCN is to keep Jacksonville residents in Calhoun County.

“The circle of healthcare begins at home and extends into the community through agencies such as Jacksonville’s Senior Center and Ladiga Manor, on to acute care settings such as RMC Jacksonville and Anniston, then to long term care facilities such as Jacksonville Health and Rehab and Ladiga Manor, and then hopefully back home,” she said.

Bussey said she is proud of how JCN is growing and the relationships that members are building to provide services and care to not only senior citizens but to all of the community.

She said her goal is to get the word out that practically anything anyone would want or need is available in Jacksonville.

“Everyone who needs health care services can get them right here,” she said. “We just want to keep it local.”

If someone is hospitalized, before he’s released, medical personnel determines if he needs additional help such as therapy or home health care. That’s where the dots start connecting to help that person get the care he needs here, rather than traveling to a neighboring city.

Those services include socialization, activities, medical care, health care and physical and mental therapy. In many cases, meals can be carried to those who are homebound.

“It helps our economy here,” said Bussey. “It takes all of us working together, knowing who has what to offer and getting that information out, to keep our people here.”

Bussey said the networking started with RMC Jacksonville, Jacksonville Health and Rehab, and Ladiga Manor, then expanded to include the library, the housing authority and others to keep that circle expanding.

“It’s  grassroots program right now, but it’s working well,” she said. “We’re putting a face out there and it’s helping us to know what other agencies are doing so that we can all stay on the same page.”

She said it’s a matter of everyone learning together and working together that will make the program successful. She invites input from the community. For more information call her at 435-9199.

The next JCN meeting will be at noon March 19 at the senior center.
© 2013