South Nashville’s resident hospital has many nicknames, but the staff is most proud of “Southern Hilton.”
Southern Hills comes by its new nickname honestly thanks to The Joint and Spine Center, a 20-bed boutique center that offers top-shelf service for orthopaedic, spine and neurosurgery patients.
Located on the fifth floor of the hospital, TriStar Southern Hills invested $3.5 million in 2013 to construct and equip the 18,000 square-foot hotel-like Joint and Spine Center.
“This floor sat vacant for a few years and we did it right,” said Katie Radel, spokeswoman for the hospital.
“The Joint and Spine Center offers patients the most advanced techniques and treatments to manage and resolve spinal and orthopaedic conditions,” Radel said.
Southern Hills has dedicated the entire floor to speciality care. From the nurses to the therapists, they are all specialized in helping patients recover from orthopaedic and spinal surgery.
The Joint and Spine Center consists of highly trained, board certified physicians along with a dedicated team consisting of nursing and rehab personnel, discharge planners, and pain management specialists.
Southern Hills is a pilot hospital for TriStar HCA programs, which means they get to try out technology and other initiatives before the company’s other facilities, she explained.
And that includes The Joint and Spine Center.
The center doesn’t look, feel or smell like a stereotypical hospital.
It has a private bistro that serves three meals a day to patients plus one family member. The bistro features cloth napkins and white table cloths.
It has a dedicated rehab and wellness gym.
It has private rooms for patients with the latest technology.
The only thing it doesn’t have is sick people.
The joint replacement and spinal surgery patients aren’t sick so they shouldn’t be with sick patients, said Dr. R. James Renfro, an orthopaedic surgeon and lead physician for the Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics at Nashville South.
“We had a good opportunity,” Renfro said, explaining the fifth floor had been damaged by a tornado. “We could remodel to take advantage of changes in health care.”
The past three or four years have shown great advancements in joint-replacement surgery, said Renfro, who focuses on knees, hips, and “the occasional shoulder.” he said.
“We are getting people back to a pain-free, active lifestyle,” Renfro said. “The surgery is different from even three or four years ago when any joint replacement meant several days recovering in the hospital or even longer in an inpatient rehabilitation facility.
“It’s become a better option for people, an easier process for people,” he said.
The downtime is shorter thanks to advances in pain management and physical therapy.
“Most patients go home the next day,” Renfro said while sitting in the bistro.
He explained the bistro is more than just a place to eat. Patients are asked to walk down to the room for meals, instead of eating in their rooms, which proves to them they can walk independently.
“They think, ‘I don’t walk this far to my kitchen,’” Renfroe said. “This gives them the confidence to do it at home.”
Another confidence builder is the wellness center, which features steps and even a car frame complete with steering wheel and seats. All the equipment is designed to build patient’s confidence and skills with everyday activities.
“They need to know they can walk down stairs and get in a car to go home. This gives them a way to practice,” Renfroe said. “People go home the next day because they can, because they are confident.”
He added most people would rather recuperate at home than in the hospital. At home, they are in familiar surroundings with family who can help with the process instead in a hospital, with its odd sounds, or nursing home, where infection rates are higher.
Southern Hilton’s helper
Another way “Southern Hilton” is different from other hospitals is its nurse navigator.
The Joint and Spine Center even has a dedicated nurse navigator Kimberly Chubb, who helps patients before, during and after their stays at the hospital.
As she explained it, Chubb helps patients “with continuity of care throughout the hospital system.”
“I start at pre-admissions testing,” Chubb said, where she meets with patients and offers a tour of the floor.
She follows up pre-surgery to make sure patients don’t have any questions and a few weeks after to head off any problems they might have.
“I make sure they don’t have any complications and aren’t in too much pain,” she said.
Chubb said she is just a small part of the care focus at The Joint and Spine Center.
“The small census means we can give good individualized care,” she said.
From the concierge nursing staff to the private bistro, The Joint and Spine Center aims to give patients an experience above and beyond other hospitals.
Renfroe wants prospective patients to know “they are going to have a good experience and be taken care of at the center.”
Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist. She can be contacted at [email protected].