Hospital gets two gifts from Duke Endowment

Some healthy financial news for the Barnwell County Hospital has arrived in the form of two Duke Endowment grants.

Hospital CEO Mary Wisner said during a March 3 Barnwell County Council meeting the hospital was notified it would get two Duke Endowment grants it applied for last year.

One of the grants will help cut the time significately that it takes for the psychiatric screening and evaluation of patients, Wisner said.

That grant will pay for $17,000 in video conference technology and cover the costs of psychiatrists in Columbia for 7-day-a-week, 24-hour patient screenings and evaluations, Wisner said.

The advantage is patients - not in need of psychiatric care - can be discharged faster and don't have to wait days for a psychiatric screening, said Wisner.

Patients in need of a screening are housed in the hospital's emergency department.

They are watched by hospital personnel and law enforcement, Wisner said.

"It eats up a lot of time," said Wisner. "On average, it can take about three days for an evaluation."

But other times, the wait can drag on, said Wisner.

BCH can't care for psychiatric patients and they have to be shipped out to other facilities as beds become open, she said.

The patients would still have to wait for a bed, but treatment can begin immediately before a patient is shipped out, said Wisner.

In turn, patients who get an immediate evaluation and don't have to be treated are discharged immediately - which frees up personnel.

Barnwell County Ed Carroll said during the meeting the grant will help out his deputies and commended the hospital for getting it.

He said department deputies have lost up to 72 hours sitting with a patient in need of an evaluation and screening.

The second grant is of an undisclosed dollar amount at this time, but grant officials have notified Wisner she'll be getting some money.

The money will be used to implement new community health programs at the hospital's three rural health clinics, said Wisner.

Some of those programs will focus on diabetes and obesity, she said.

Funds will also go toward software and computer upgrades in the rural health clinics, said Wisner.