The Ballinger Memorial Hospital District celebrated Hospital Week by providing a barbeque lunch to their employees along with raffle items and recognition for their continued commitment to the community.
While the hospital might serve a small west Texas town, it provides care and technology commensurate with hospitals in big cities. Radiology Director Sommer McCullough says that the radiology department is fully digital and will be receiving some new equipment soon, “We have a portable x-ray and we have great equipment. One piece of equipment that we’ll be receiving soon is a mammography machine. It should be installed and up and running in September. We want to have it for breast cancer awareness month.” According to the American Cancer Society, women over the age of 54 should get a mammogram every 2 years. The 2019 Texas County Health Rankings show that only 30% of women in Runnels County between the ages of 65 and 74 get an annual mammogram. In 2012 the number was 36% and that has steadily declined over the last 7 years. The mammogram machine will be the only one in this area since Concho, Coke and Coleman counties don’t have any mammogram machines. The mammogram will be a benefit to the surrounding area and save time on people having to travel for mammograms and perhaps increase the number of women who receive mammograms. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and it’s the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Men can also get from breast cancer.
The Radiology department can do bone density scans, CT scans and other radiological testing. Their CT machine is advanced and can give detailed information on a patient’s condition. The machine also shows videos that the patients can watch when they’re undergoing the scan, including videos oriented for children.
The Emergency Department has all up-to-date equipment and can handle Level 1 traumas in their 2 ER rooms. Each room has enough room for a significant number of staff members and the equipment that is used to save lives. The crash carts and pediatric crash carts are inspected monthly to ensure they are ready in case they are needed.
All of the nurses are trained for pediatric emergencies and life support events. The doctors are all board certified and they stay in-house so there is always someone at the ER along with nurses.
The medication dispensing system is state-of-the-art. ER RN Melanie Shapes talks about the benefits of the system, “The medication system has fingerprint identification and each medication is scanned and automatically associated with the patient to receive it. The medication is then automatically scanned into the nursing notes and patient chart. This reduces the chances of any medication errors and helps to ensure patients are given the best care.”
The hospital has 25 patient rooms that are spacious and updated with quality, high-grade equipment. Additionally, the rooms were painted a few months ago and each room has large flat screen televisions.
One department that is at the forefront of technology is the lab. Henry Ramos is a lab technician and Haley McDonald is a phlebotomist. Ramos says that the lab has extensive capabilities, “We can run all panels such as thyroid, cardiac, metabolic, etc. We bought the new machine in 2017 and it can do whatever we need. We also have a coagulation machine. We can run most any test here, including level 1 trauma.” The lab is efficient and organized, with an emphasis on providing accurate results in a timely manner.
The hospital keeps current with the times and is always moving forward such as with their new transport van that they purchased last month. The van can transport 2 wheelchair patients and 2 ambulatory patients simultaneously. EMS director Mike Goetz says that it expands the hospital’s ability to provide care, “Nursing homes tend to only have one van and we can use this van to go pick up patients and bring them here for their appointment. We can also use it to help bring other patients here for care. The van always has a licensed medical person onboard, such as an EMT or a CNA.”
Last year the hospital bought two new ambulances as well. The ambulances are also state-of-the-art. The stretchers have automatic lifts that lock into place so that only one EMT is needed to load the stretcher into the vehicle. This helps in that the other EMT can be getting the ambulance ready to travel or provide life-saving measures to the patient. Each ambulance has an auto-pulse board that automatically performs chest compressions on patients in cardiac arrest. This allows the EMTs to perform additional life-saving measures on the patient. EMS is the largest department at the hospital with about 20 full-time and part-time EMTs.
Ballinger Memorial Hospital is run efficiently with an emphasis on providing quality patient care. The hospital is staffed by members from the community who have a vested interest in the care of the patients who come through those doors, whether it’s a trip to the ER or a clinic visit. CEO Rhett Fricke has overseen the progress and been instrumental in bringing in new equipment and along with Director of Nursing Becky Ellis, has brought in high quality staff members at BHMD the last few years.
The physicians, Dr. Alan Hardwicke, Dr. Bradly Bundrant and Dr. Daniel Heimbecker, along with physicians’ assistants Amy Page and Sarah Studer form the nucleus of a medical team that oversees the patient care. The entire staff of the hospital, from plant operations to nursing, the lab, physical therapy, radiology, administrative positions, leadership and the board of directors are all committed to keeping the hospital moving forward.