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Emerson tours health facilities

FARMINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson toured three health facilities Tuesday as part of her ongoing effort to stay on top of Parkland issues.

Emerson and staff toured the Parkland Pregnancy Resource Center and Mineral Area Regional Medical Center in the morning and in the afternoon, she talked with staff and patients at Farmington Sports and Rehab.

At the hospital, Emerson talked with CEO Jeannette Skinner about the mental health unit, which is about a year old.

“I wanted to follow up on the transition with the closing of the SEMO Mental Health Center’s acute care center,” Emerson said. “(Skinner) said that they have 10 geriatric and 10 acute care beds. So far, patient satisfaction and employee satisfaction are high on all indicators. She’s interested in expanding the program.”

In the afternoon, Sports Rehab Clinic Director David Buerck and Emerson walked through the facility and met with some patients and staff. Emerson asked questions about the therapies performed and about the caps on Medicare.

One thing discussed was the small number of VA patients coming to the clinic. Buerck said the clinic used to see a lot of VA patients, but now a lot of veterans are told to go to St. Louis or farther for treatment.

Emerson said veterans currently have to go to VA clinics for procedures and specialized treatment. Often, they are too ill or in too much pain to drive themselves and depend on others to take them to the doctor.

Buerck said they have two patients who cannot go to Farmington Sports and Rehab anymore because the veterans don’t have a waiver to receive therapy from there.

Emerson told Buerck to get the names and have those patients call her office. She said she would help them out so they don’t have to travel for their therapy.

Emerson added that it defeats the purpose of therapy in some cases when you consider the stress of losing a day of work as well as the wear and tear on the body from driving long distances round trip to get needed therapy. It’s less costly and more efficient to stay locally.

It would be more efficient and a better option to have contracts at local hospitals or clinics for some of the local patients so they don’t have to travel as far, she suggested.

Buerck said if a patient has Medicare with a cap on expenses, the cap sometimes may be modified. Modification is not made for patients who have debilitating diseases. The clinic works with those patients to maintain independence, but when the patients hit that cap they can’t have any more treatment for the year, he explained.

The cap has also forced the staff to see more than one patient at a time and gives them less “face time” with each patient. The staff usually works with each patient for 45 minutes to an hour each session. It’s easier with younger patients to get therapy completed but the older patients don’t move as quickly and it sometimes takes more time for their therapy, Buerck said.

Physical therapist Lisa West said the only way for patients to get better is by doing hands on therapy with staff.

Buerck said the average copay for a patient is $30 and the average cost of a session of physical therapy is $75 to $80 per hour. Cost, plus the high prices of gas also prevent some patients from getting to the therapy they need, he added.

Some information for this story was provided by Paula Barr.

Maridee Lawson is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 756-8927 or

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