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Hospital set to open MMH Outpatient Center on Wednesday


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

Mark P. Brouillette, MMH’s senior director of ancillary services, said they purchased the building on Dec. 21, 2012 and, after working with four different Department of Health bureaus, received approval for physical therapy and MRI services on Feb. 28, 2013.

Since then, he said, they’ve 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, Massena, 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 Tuesday learning the new computer system and re-registering patients, and the first patients will be seen on 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 they have a variety of physical therapy equipment for patients to use.

Among them, she said is the Baltimore Therapeutic Equipment that can measure the strength of different parts of the body, such as the upper body, lower body, neck and back.

“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 if prospective employees can handle a lifting occupation. It can also 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 noted.

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 by patients.

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, noting the density of the water also helps reduce swelling patients may have.

She said an average of six to nine patients a day use the pool, but that the number is seasonal.

They also offer hand therapy and make 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. Their referrals come from general practitioners, nurse practitioners, primary care physicians, orthopedists and neurologists.

“We get referrals from all over,” including Syracuse and Burlington, Ms. Cecot said. “We take referrals from all over the state and even out of 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 now changed.

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

Hospital officials had announced in January 2012 that they planned to purchase the Seaway Orthopedics building for $2.95 million to expand their services. The Massena Town Board 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.

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