Morgan County's hospital has a lot to offer

January 18, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Many people living in Morgan County might not be aware that War Memorial Hospital has much of the same state-of-the-art equipment as other, bigger hospitals, a War Memorial official said.

Neil McLaughlin, the hospital's director of patient services, said the hospital offers CT scans and MRIs, so there's no need to travel when a doctor prescribes testing to help diagnose a problem.

The hospital administrator, John Borg, who has been a board member since 1989, said War Memorial is a critical access hospital, offering primary access care and diagnostics.


"These hospitals are designated by the federal government and the maximum number of beds allowed is 25," said Borg. War Memorial Hospital has top notch emergency and radiology departments and an up-to-date laboratory, he said.

Studies have shown that Morgan County is one of the fastest growing in West Virginia. The county is the fastest growing county for secondary homes, making a hospital that provides acute primary care an important part of the community, Borg said.

Rehabilitation services

In addition to primary care and triage, Borg said, the hospital offers rehabilitation services. McLaughlin said any inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation is available, including physical and occupational therapy, as well as cardiac rehabilitation.

Cardiac rehabilitation patient Andrew Jurick, a Morgan County resident, said he had open heart surgery in Winchester (Va.) Medical Center in November 2004. Jurick said he could complete his rehabilitation in Winchester or in Berkeley Springs.

Physical Therapist Dave Crittenden, who heads up the hospital's Cardiac Rehab program, said he was notified that Jurick decided to use War Memorial's rehab facilities, and he contacted Jurick to set up appointments.

Crittenden said Jurick is getting everything he needs for his cardiac rehabilitation at War Memorial.

Jurick said he likes the informal atmosphere at War Memorial. He said he also liked it that when he had an EKG recently at War Memorial, it was hand-carried to his doctor's office on the hospital grounds. The doctor was able to quickly check the EKG and report that everything was OK.

Cardiac rehab patient Larry James Sr., another county resident, said he had surgery and a stent implanted at Winchester Medical Center last October.

"Morgan County is fortunate to have a rehab facility and everyone should know that," he said. James said it was a "godsend to find out the program is available."

James said his cardiac problem caused him to stop smoking. He exercises three times a week as does Jurick. Both spend 45 minutes each session on the treadmill. Medicare and most other insurance plans cover the medically supervised cardiac rehabilitation program, Crittenden said. Once the medically supervised program is no longer needed, the patient becomes part of the wellness program, which also is available at War Memorial, he said.

Extended care

War Memorial's 16-bed Extended Care Facility has a waiting list of 50 to 60 people, McLaughlin said. The residents will tell you War Memorial has the "greatest staff in the world," Borg said.

Jessie Hunter, 91, was admitted to the extended care facility in February 2004. Hunter said she would rather live at home, but her family worried that she might fall and get hurt if she were by herself. She said she is in good health, but is a little unsteady, so she walks in the hallways but close to the bar along the walls, so she can grab the bar and keep herself from falling.

Naomi Helsley, 85, was admitted to extended care in December 2003. She said she likes it better at War Memorial than home. Helsley, who said she had polio as a child, has been in a wheelchair for the last 20 years.

She lived alone for eight years, but came to War Memorial's extended care facility after suffering a heart attack. "It's like a family here," Helsley said, and the staff is wonderful. Helsley said if she ever wrote a book about living at War Memorial, she would call it "The Angels," after the staff members who work there.

Both women are from the area, are retired school teachers and were married to funeral directors, Hunter said.

Helsley shares her room with one other woman, but Hunter has a private room, she said. Patients get to use a community room with a large-screen TV where they can read, talk and play bingo and cards, Hunter said.

Activities also are provided by the staff members. This past Halloween, the doctors and nurses dressed in costumes and their kids came in and stopped at each room to get their candy treats. Hunter said the staff provided the candy for them to give out to the youngsters. They have holiday meals to which they can invite family members, she said. They are taken to dental appointments or the hair dressers or they can have their hair and nails done at the hospital.

"It doesn't feel like a nursing home," said Helsley.

"It's more like a dorm," Hunter said.

Helsley said everyone who works at the hospital, from maintenance to housekeeping to doctors and nurses are "so good to you." It's like an extended family taking care of you, said Helsley.

"The food's great," said Hunter.

'Great asset'

Borg said War Memorial Hospital is the third largest employer in the county.

"It's a great asset to the community," he said. "We want the hospital to become more user-friendly for the community and the physicians," said McLaughlin.

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