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October 10, 2013 Issue

Escaped prisoner caught
Band wins honors
Hospital considers expanding department

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Escaped prisoner caught

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Rodney Robert Maxim, 46, walked away from a Jefferson County prison work detail Friday, Oct. 4.

William Evans, warden at the Jefferson County Correctional Institution (JCCI), said the detail was working at the county landfill.

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“He took it upon himself and walked away,” Evans said. “We found some clothing in the woods that he had discarded. He’s back in custody. He was recaptured back in Savannah.”

The Department of Corrections’ Fugitive Task Force located Maxim, the warden said.

Evans said Maxim had been serving time on charges of theft by taking, financial identity fraud, computer theft and burglary, all felonies.

Maxim was scheduled to be released from prison in about a year, Evans said, adding this escape could add up to five years.

“It’s up to the courts,” he said.

Maxim was transported to Jefferson County’s Law Enforcement Center where he was booked and processed for escape. He will be transported back to Savannah.

Evans said Maxim will not be housed in a facility where he has escaped.

“He will be in a close security facility from now on,” Evans said.




Band wins honors

By Megan Johnson
Apprentice

The Jefferson County High School Warrior Marching Band received the highest score they ever have at a competition.

“Our score was 89.13 out of 100,” JCHS band director, James McMillan said.

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“Last year the band scored 84.80. We went up from last year so I am very happy about that,” he said.

The band competed Saturday, Sept. 28, in Milledgeville at The Oconee Classic held at Baldwin County High School.

“I thought we did very well,” McMillan said.

“Ten bands competed in the competition and we were in the top four bands,” he said.

“The Warrior Marching Band and percussion took first place in their class and the drum majors and flag line took second place,” McMillan said.

He said the band received all superior ratings in all captions; which are overall effect, music performance and visual effect. Superior is the highest rating possible.

The Warrior Band will be traveling to Blackshear on Sat, Oct 12, to compete in the Sound Of Silver Marching Band Competition at Pierce County High School.

“Our performance is at 3 p.m. There are 17 bands total, which will probably make it one of the largest band competitions in the state,” McMillan said.

The Warrior band would love for the community to come and support them at their competition this Saturday.

“The band is getting bigger and better every year; and, I am very proud of that accomplishment,” McMillan said.







Hospital considers expanding department

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

While Pioneer Health’s initial plans to get Jefferson Hospital back in the black involved cuts, the more long-term plans were always to identify departments with growth potential and then find ways to help them grow.

During last month’s authority meeting, the management company’s representatives talked about plans to expand the hospital’s physical therapy department.

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“It’s probably our fastest growing department and that speaks well of it because people don’t want to go anywhere else,” said Steve Widener, the hospital’s interim CEO. “Rhonda and Ashlee are just outstanding therapists. They’re well known. The doctors don’t hesitate to let them decide what that patient needs. They’re highly qualified and the fact that they are both from here is awesome.”

Widener explained that current plans involve moving the department, which is currently located at the center of the building in the hospital’s old labor and delivery space, into the current wellness center. Walls in the wellness center will be coming down to provide a more open rehab area. Plans also include rooms that can be geared more toward specialty rehabs such as pediatrics.

The plans for the expansion remain tentative while officials review the potential costs of the expansion and the potential business that could grow from it.

“An expansion is our goal,” Widener said. “There are some financial reasons. Right now the wellness center can’t be included in the hospital’s cost report. But if we put the rehab center in there with it and they use that space then we can and it will increase our reimbursement a little bit. But the main thing is for rehab, it gives them a separate identity with its own walk in entrance.

“They will double their space, plus they’ll get to use the wellness center gym. Instead of having two or three people in a small space they’ll be in a big open area.”

The wellness center with its free weights and exercise equipment will remain open. However its fitness equipment will now be more easily accessible for rehab patients as well.

Ashlee Arrington, the hospital’s occupational therapist and rehab director, said that her department is already bringing higher functioning patients down to the wellness center.

“Moving us down here would give us access to the equipment for our patients who are a little more debilitated,” Arrington said. “We are not able to use it as often as we like because of the distance from the clinic.”

Arrington currently works full time in the department with physical therapist Rhonda Strickland and a part time PTA.

“When everybody’s in there together it’s mass chaos, you just can’t move,” Arrington said. “We don’t have a lot of the cardio equipment that we need in the current space we are in. We don’t have a space that’s really geared toward treating pediatrics. We do the best we can, we treat them in the hallway sometimes. When two therapists are trying to treat at the same time you have to be real creative on how you use your space.”

While dwindling admissions and fewer overall patients led the hospital to the cuts it saw earlier this year, the rehab department’s volume has actually been steadily increasing.

“When we first started working here I would have one or two patients a day and Rhonda would have two or three patients a day,” Arrington said.

Over the last 12 years, she and Strickland have mostly been using word of mouth to grow business.

“We’re treating anywhere from 10 to 16 patients a day now,” she said. “We see stroke patients, joint replacements, arthroscopic surgeries like knee and shoulder surgeries. We see some athletics and general sports injuries. We’re growing the pediatric OT side. I’ve gotten my children’s intervention services license so I can treat children with special needs who have Medicaid up to four visits a month. That part is significantly growing. I treat children with autism, Aspergers, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy.”

She attributes much of the volume growth to the age of residents in the community.

“Boomers are getting older and having minor surgeries done, joint replacements, etc.,” Arrington said. “We really do have the market wrapped up if people want to take advantage of it.”

She is excited about the plans to move and expand the department and sees potential for further growth.

Widener said the move will also give the rehab department front door access.

“Their goal was to get us visible and to the front, because we are kind of stuck back in the hospital,” Arrington said. “This will get us out front so we’ll have easier access to parking, our own entrance without steps for patients in wheelchairs and those who get winded trying to get to our department.

“In the new department patients can have privacy, but we can have access to the free weights and circuit equipment for the patients who need it,” she said. “It makes it an easy transition for us to promote the wellness side of it. Once they get used to being down here a lot will probably transition into the wellness side and continue to come as wellness members. We like to help promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Arrington said that it also helps that both she and Strickland are from the area and see their patients in the grocery store. Not only does it make the patients more comfortable, the relationships are that much stronger and makes for a good repeat patient rate.

“It’s very rewarding what we do, because you get to see a patient go from, ‘I used to be at part A, I’m at part Z and I’m working my way back,’” Arrington said. “It makes it very worthwhile to come to work where I see patients return to function. That’s rewarding.”

Widener said that Pioneer has an engineer has already worked with the rehab staff and completed some preliminary drawings for the expansion.

He said that the work could be done in phases and the hospital architect is reviewing the drawings. Some of the work could be done by the hospital’s own staff, Widener said, and if they find a way to use existing air conditioning units for the space, then they could save substantially on the cost.

“We’d like this to progress as soon as possible,” Widener said. “But it depends on the condition of the hospital as we can pay for it or as we can raise the money. It’s really our only construction project that we’re intending to do right now.”

Hospital officials have said there is currently $250,000 in a Hospital Authority account labeled as an equipment renewal fund that is designated for capital projects like this expansion.

These officials, along with Pioneer’s help, are reviewing the feasibility of proceeding with the expansion.







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Last modified: October 9, 2013