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Albuquerque Business First

Derrick Jones leads the Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital, which works with patients recovering from debilitating injuries or illnesses. The hospital works to get people doing day-to-day tasks again, from using an ATM to shopping for groceries.
 
 
Dennis Domrzalski, Reporter- Albuquerque Business First

Derrick Jones and his crew at the Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital are on a roll.

The 62-bed hospital recently won the quality award from its parent company, Ardent Health Services; Jones was named Ardent’s CEO of the year for 2012; and the hospital saw a 7 percent increase in inpatient admissions last year.

Jones, who has been with Lovelace since December 2011, said the quality award “sends a signal out to potential patients that we take quality very seriously, and we hope they vote with their feet to decide to come here based on our quality results.”

What does the hospital do?

We provide physical, speech and occupational therapy in both the inpatient and outpatient side. On the inpatient side we take care of patients who have had generally traumatic events that have happened to them, like a stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation or some other neurological disorder.

You are considering expanding into Los Lunas?

Yes. We have done the analysis of the area and that seems to be an area that is underserved, so we are looking at opening an outpatient clinic in the area. We hope to have something open by the end of the year.

How did you get into health care?

My father was a microbiologist and working at the [Alabama] health department, and both of my parents were biology majors, so science, biology and chemistry were always in the family.

And when I was 12 or 13, my mother contracted breast cancer. She actually contracted it twice. And because of the medical care she was receiving, especially in the 1980s and especially in the underserved minority population, there were things that were handled about her disease process that were less than desirable. I saw her go through the whole process and recover and I thought, “Gosh, I want to do something that is going to help people, help make the process better and help save lives.” She is kind of the motivation for me having the passion for health care.

What is different about health care today than in the 1980s?

People generally feel more responsible and take more responsibility for their own health and well-being. It is not infrequent for us to have a patient who presents themselves who knows a lot about the process and has investigated treatment methodologies on the Internet. The information is out there and it is available for patients. They know what the services are and they demand to receive those services in a manner in which they have investigated. Some patients know almost as much as the clinicians and administrators about their options.

What do you wish people would ask you?

I would like people to understand how the whole regulatory payment system works. There are a lot of people we would love to treat, but because of regulations we might be limited on the numbers of patients we can treat.

Could you explain that?

As a rehab hospital we have a 60 percent rule, and that means that 60 percent of our patients have to fall within one of 13 diagnoses. That means that 60 percent of our patients have to meet the stroke, brain injury, amputee and other criteria. That’s by federal law. If they don’t, we have 40 percent that we can work with, but it is a constant juggling act.

I also wish people would ask, “Why is rehab important for my loved one? Why should I choose going to a rehab hospital versus going to something else?”

The answer is that generally, after a devastating disease process you generally have one shot to regain your functional status as closely as you had it before. We’re seeing studies that say the more you work with someone right after a debilitating disease, the better the outcomes, rather than letting them sit for six or nine months.

Hospital uses car parts, mock grocery, ATM machine in work with patients

The Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital has part of a black Pontiac that it uses to help people recover from debilitating injuries or illnesses.

It also has an ATM machine, mock grocery store aisle and more.

The idea is to get patients back doing day-to-day tasks and on their way to recovery.

The hospital saw more than 1,000 people on an inpatient basis in 2012, a 7 percent increase from the previous year, said CEO Derrick Jones.

The hospital has an on-site clinic at Jemez Pueblo, provides therapists five days a week to an on-site clinic at Sandia National Laboratories and is looking to open a clinic in Los Lunas by the end of the year, Jones said.

The hospital takes a team approach to treating its patients.

“Our physicians meet daily with the patients and we make sure that medically they are being managed,” Jones explained. “We work with them three hours a day, and those three hours are divided into physical, occupational and speech therapy. We tailor the treatments to the individuals, we set goals for them and our interdisciplinary teams meet twice a week to review their progress.

“We make sure they are achieving their goals. The motto here is ‘We want to try and get people back to their families, back to work, back to play and back to whatever functional level they were at before.’”

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