Methodist Specialty Care Center Activities Reflect Interests of Younger Residents
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
It’s Monday morning at Methodist Specialty Care Center in Flowood, and residents Derrick Evans and Pam Phillips are taking a class to prepare for the General Educational Development (GED) test.
It’s not an activity you would expect to find at a long-term care facility, and that’s the beauty of being at Methodist Specialty Care Center, say Evans, 23, and Phillips, 42. Because the majority of the center’s residents are under age 55, they find it’s more youth-oriented than traditional nursing homes.
“It’s not for old folks,” said Evans, a quadriplegic from Laurel who especially enjoys center jaunts to malls, museums and baseball games. “We do what we want to do and go where we want to go.”
Before the center opened in spring of 2004, severely disabled young people like Evans and Phillips often lived in settings where most residents were 40 years their senior.
“In a traditional nursing home, you might have two people under age 55,” said Jan Robertson, vice president of long-term care at Methodist. “And they’re generally older and sicker, and you have more residents with dementia.”
Methodist Specialty Care Center, by contrast, primarily serves people who need maximum assistance because of a disabling illness or injury, rather than due to their age or mental status. Residents are typically age 17 to 55 with conditions such as quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or traumatic brain injury. The center also can accommodate ventilator-dependent patients and people with permanent tracheostomies.
Born with cerebral palsy, Phillips said being at Methodist Specialty Care Center is affording her opportunities she never thought were possible. “I always wanted to go to school, but the public schools wouldn’t accept me. It means a lot to me to be able to get my GED.”
It also means a lot to Amanda Fontaine of Brandon that she will be able to help Phillips reach her goal. A former college instructor, Fontaine volunteers once a week to tutor residents interested in getting a GED. Her weekly class now includes three residents who have their sights set on a GED certificate.
Robertson said such shared interests form bonds, and people find that’s one of the main advantages of being at Methodist Specialty Care Center. “They like being around people their own age with similar likes. It builds friendships. We have the biggest buddy system there is.” In fact, they’ve made that “buddy system” official. Each new resident now gets a friendly welcome from a member of the center’s recently formed ambassador committee.
Amanda Fontaine tutors Methodist Specialty Care Center residents Pam Phillips and Derrick Evans.