Mention rural health care, and your conversation partner is likely to conjure thoughts of an older gentleman knocking on the door with his worn leather medical bag in hand. While that certainly was the case less than 100 years ago, rural health care now looks much more like it’s metropolitan counterpart.
Paris Regional Medical Center is quickly becoming the shining star of Lamar County. Not only is it among the county’s top employers, but it is leading the charge in pushing the boundaries of what it means to be involved in rural health care.
In today’s age when so many much-needed rural hospitals are being shuttered — victims of the rising costs of health care and the increasing complexities of insurance, Medicaid and Medicare — Paris Regional Medical Center is flourishing. It continues to provide all the services a regional hub such as Paris needs — state-of-the-art surgical techniques, an emergency room and its new designation as a Level 3 trauma center.
Let’s look a minute at that last one. Paris Regional Medical Center earned the designation in October 2018 from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Earning that mark means Paris Regional Medical Center is the only designated trauma facility within about a 90-mile radius of Paris. It’s now one of just 55 such facilities in the state. Level 3 centers — being the highest designation that can be achieved outside a metropolitan area — provide for resuscitation, stabilization and assessment of injury victims.
It’s a designation that took the dedicated professional who work there three years to earn.
When it comes to needing immediate attention, Red River Valley residents have a stunning amount of choice. In so many of America’s rural areas, there’s but one choice when urgent care is needed. In Paris, it’s essentially patient’s choice. Not only is there Paris Regional Medical Center’s emergency room, but there’s also several free standing urgent and emergency care centers, such as Salas Minor Emergency, HealthCARE Express and SignatureCare, and we have complete care centers such as the aptly named Complete Care Clinic and Paris Family Physicians.
Interventional radiology service might not interest you until you need it, but it’s a service offered to Paris Regional Medical Center patients. For it, Dr. Srikanth Medarametla uses high definition imaging to guide fine catheters and wires through the body’s blood vessels. It’s an alternative to traditional surgeries and laparoscopies. The technology delivers medication where it is needed most and allows surgeons to see exactly where they are going in a less invasive manner than previous techniques.
Also adding to the choices of available health care is the Paris-Lamar County Health District. It’s one of only a handful of health departments in Texas that offer a broad variety of services, including immunizations, pre-natal care, family planning, and care of non-emergency or chronic medical conditions, lab work, screening and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, nutrition programs and sanitary inspections.
The list of available services here goes on — it’s truly astounding the help we have available. We have multiple dentists, eye doctors, specialists, physical therapists and services to help us as we enter the later years of life.
And the best part? We have a resource right here in Paris able to provide a foundation for medical service — Paris Junior College. It’s medically focused programs include Surgical Technology, Enhanced Nurse Aide, Nursing and Emergency Medical Services.
The school this year marks the 50th anniversary of its associate nursing degree program. Last spring, its health occupation labs were renovated and new, updated equipment was brought in to offer students the type of simulations that are about as close to real life situations as they’ll face before they graduate. It’s one thing to read about what needs to be done. It’s another thing to have to do it.
All told, it’s almost a ludicrous proposal to call the combined health care services here rural health care. The days of the doctor’s house call are long gone, but in their wake we have a network of services that are the envy of other rural American areas.
No matter what health care services you require, there’s one thing you can be sure of — the doctor is in.