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Hospital to open MMH Outpatient Center on Wednesday

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MASSENA — After several months of waiting for approvals and working to comply with new rules and regulations, Massena Memorial Hospital is ready to open its MMH Outpatient Center on Wednesday at 269-273 Andrews St., the Seaway Orthopedics building.

Mark P. Brouillette, the hospital’s senior director of ancillary services, said the hospital purchased the building Dec. 21, 2012, and, after working with four different Department of Health bureaus, received approval for physical therapy and MRI services on Feb. 28.

Since then, he said, it has been working to come into compliance with new Department of Health rules and regulations.

“The balance of the time since has been spent complying with the rules and regulations. We were one of the first in the state to comply with the new regulations,” Mr. Brouillette said.

Part of that process, he said, included renovating an in-building therapeutic pool so it was in compliance with the new rules and regulation. The pool was rebuilt by Spaulding Pool and Spa, based on the new Department of Health codes, and then had to undergo three tests before it could be approved, he said.

Staff members spent Monday and today learning the new computer system and reregistering patients, and the first patients will be seen Wednesday. Mr. Brouillette said it took efforts from a number of departments to make the change a reality, including the Physical Therapy Department, Maintenance, Registration and Finance.

Christy Cecot, physical therapist and MMH Outpatient Center supervisor, said it has a variety of physical therapy equipment for patients to use.

Among them is the Baltimore Therapeutic Equipment, which can measure the strength of different parts of the body.

“It’s one of our new services,” Mr. Brouillette said.

“It’s basically a big magnet,” which sends electricity to increase or decrease the amount of torque to gauge resistance, Ms. Cecot said.

Employers can use it for capacity testing, to gauge whether prospective employees can handle a lifting occupation. It also can be used to test functional capacities for disabilities.

The machine allows physical therapists to measure a person’s strength and range of motion, and stores data so physical therapists can compare the latest results with previous results.

“It can document it so you know what they’re capable of before returning to work or disability,” Ms. Cecot said.

The machine, which was purchased in 1990, can simulate lifting, or even simulate throwing a ball, and can gauge functions such as the ability to turn a screwdriver or use a hammer, she said.

“You can do everything — knees, ankles, shoulders, wrists, hands,” she said.

Another room, set up fitness-center style, contains a variety of exercise equipment that can be used for physical therapy, from treadmills and bicycles to elliptical machines and other weight machines that can strengthen arms.

“We have three different kinds of leg bikes,” Ms. Cecot said.

She said, like the Baltimore Therapeutic Equipment, the pieces of fitness equipment were purchased when the facility opened in 1990.

An in-building therapeutic pool with temperatures of 90 to 92 degrees and depths from 42 inches to 72 inches is also available for use.

The pool can be used for patients who have problems with their spines, necks, back or hips because it takes the load off those areas.

“It’s weightless exercise. They’re not fighting gravity,” Ms. Cecot said.

It also offers hand therapy and makes hand splints, as well as shoe inserts, she said.

The MMH Outpatient Center sees patients of all ages, primarily for orthopedics, joint-replacement surgeries, general exercise and work conditioning. Referrals come from general practitioners, nurse practitioners, primary care physicians, orthopedists and neurologists from all over the state.

Dr. Bedros Bakirtzian, who previously owned the building, did not accept all insurances. But with the conversion to Massena Memorial Hospital, that has changed.

“We accept all insurances. That’s a big change; it’s a good change,” Ms Cecot said.

Hospital officials had announced in January 2012 that they planned to purchase the Seaway Orthopedics building for $2.95 million to expand services. The Massena Town Council voted unanimously that month to allow the municipally owned hospital to purchase the building, as well as the MRI and physical therapy equipment inside.

The 14,000-square-foot building was owned by Dr. Bakirtzian, who maintains a private orthopedic practice and operates physical therapy and MRI divisions out of the same building.

The hospital is taking over the MRI and physical therapy and the vast majority of those divisions’ employees.

Dr. Bakirtzian is maintaining his orthopedic practice separate from the hospital and will pay a monthly lease on 3,300 square feet of office space and another 2,100 square feet of apartment space for personal use.

HIGHLIGHTS
Features of Massena Memorial Hospital’s new outpatient center:
• Baltimore Therapeutic Equipment: Measures the strength of different parts of the body and allows physical therapists to measure a person’s strength and range of motion, and stores data to gauge patient progress. It can also simulate lifting or throwing a ball, and gauge functions such as the ability to turn a screwdriver or use a hammer.
• Fitness center-style room with a variety of exercise equipment for physical therapy, including treadmills, bicycles, elliptical machines and weight machines.
• Therapeutic pool with temperatures of 90 to 92 degrees.
• Hand therapy, and hand-splint and shoe-insert making services.
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