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Cell tower to be put atop medical center
Liberty Regional Medical Center is on Highway 196 West in Hinesville. - photo by File photo

The Liberty County Hospital Authority board will enter into a lease agreement with Verizon for a cellphone tower to be placed on top of Liberty Regional Medical Center.

“We have partnered with Verizon to allow them to use the rooftop and set up a tower here,” said Donna Cochrane, the hospital’s chief nursing officer and interim CEO, during the authority board meeting Tuesday.

The beginning assessment had been conducted, but the permits were still being worked out.  

“There’s no money involved,” Cochrane said. “By them putting (up) the tower, it’ll give us the additional access points and everything that we need.”

The hospital was dealing with a number of dead spots in a few departments, and this will benefit them on top of the additional interior work that already has been done to enhance reception coverage, Cochrane said.

Quality care

Lisa Pearson, the hospital’s compliance officer, informed the board of some findings in the Hospital Compare Preview report from Medicare, which compares hospitals to the state and national average. The report will be available to the public around October.

For the hospital staff’s immunization coverage rates, Liberty Regional has an average of 94 percent, compared to the state’s 86 percent and the national 84 percent rate.

“So we’ve done very well with hospital personnel complying to taking the flu shot,” Pearson said.

LRMC’s emergency-room times also are on par with, or better than, the average, the report says.

From entering to leaving, a patient’s average time in the ER is 126 minutes. The overall average is 152 minutes. Medium-size hospitals such as Liberty Regional have an average time of 135 minutes, so Pearson consider their timing very good.

“So we’re actually doing very well and seeing our patients and getting them taken care of,” Pearson said.

Patients also see a provider on average within 32 minutes in the ER, with the state’s average at 31 minutes.

“We saw 24,551 patients last year,” said James Rogers, the chairman of the Hospital Authority board. “So that is a lot of people.”

The hospital’s readmission rate is 14.7 percent. The national average is 15.2 percent.

“This is patients that are readmitted here at our hospital, but it’s also patients that are readmitted at other hospitals that we get dinged on as well,” Pearson said. “So if they go to Wayne County or they go into Savannah and they are readmitted within that 30 days, we get dinged.”

Board vacancy

Three candidates were submitted by Liberty County commissioners to fill the seat formerly held by Will Darcy, who resigned before the three-year term limit. The board did not vote on any candidates, so it will wait for the county to submit three more.

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