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Vidalia infusion clinic offers medical alternative

ROD GUAJARDO / The Natchez Democrat — John Grimmer, left, Rhonda Randall, center, and Jerry Latham make up the staff of Miss-Lou Infusion Therapy on Carter Street in Vidalia. The clinic offers intravenous and other specialty infusions to save patients from visiting busy hospitals for their IV treatments.

VIDALIA — The biggest challenge for John Grimmer and the staff of Miss-Lou Infusion Therapy isn’t getting people into the building, it’s explaining what exactly infusion means.

“A lot of people will just walk in, but don’t know what infusion means or who we are,” Grimmer said. “After that, they’re really excited that they have this option available.”

Infusion is intravenous administration or the process of medications pumping into the blood, Grimmer said.

One of the newest businesses on Carter Street in Vidalia, the clinic opened in September and focused on marketing and informing the community of its available services.

The clinic mainly provides an alternative and more convenient source for IV treatment, Grimmer said.

“A lot of patients are sitting around in a hospital room all day that are just waiting on one infusion because that was the only option they had,” Grimmer said. “This saves them time and money.”

The majority of patients visit the clinic for infectious disease treatments that require antibiotics given through an IV rather than pills or shots. Grimmer said intravenous medication attacks the infection more aggressively.

Other services include basic wound dressing changes, catheter management, hydration and specialized infusions.

Jerry Latham does marketing for the clinic and said she makes sure all hospitals and doctors in the area know they are there to help patients.

“The main thing is just getting out there and letting them know or reminding them that we’re here,” Latham said. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get patients in here and make their lives less complicated.”

Patients can walk in and have the clinic contact their physician for approval and medication specifications or patients can ask their physician for a referral to the clinic, Grimmer said.

Another added benefit to the clinic is the ability to save patients their Medicaid hospital days, Latham said.

“Some Medicaid patients only have a certain amount of hospital days per year,” Latham said. “This way we can save them some of those days by having them come here instead of the hospital.”

Patients visiting the clinic receive treatment in a private booth area complete with a lounge chair and a television.

With different medication needing to be administered over different periods of time, infusion time can vary anywhere from 10 minutes for a quick injection to an hour for a slow drip, Grimmer said.

Along with getting the word out about the services the clinic offers, Grimmer said letting patients know his medical experience is important.

“A big concern for patients is ‘Are you a new graduate who’s going to stick me 15 times with a needle?’” Grimmer said. “It’s comforting for them to know that I do have experience doing this and that’s something they like to hear.”

A native of Walker, La., in Livingston Parish and a 2003 graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Grimmer has experience in intensive care and worked in Los Angeles before returning to work for three years at North Oaks Health System in Hammond.

“The patients have been wonderful and very appreciative,” Grimmer said. “It’s been very rewarding dealing with these patients.”

Torrey Groce of Natchez, was on his final day of antibiotic IV treatment Thursday.

Groce was injured in a car accident and after being treated in the emergency room, his doctor recommended receiving antibiotics through IV and mentioned the infusion clinic.

“This is … a lot more convenient because I don’t have to wait on a whole staff to get to me,” Groce said. “I’m in and out in an hour.”

Groce said he also prefers the solidarity the clinic’s private booth offers, not just because of the large flat screen TV he controls during his infusions.

“I’m just here in my own space. It’s nice,” Groce said.

Carol King of Natchez is no stranger to hospitals, but also prefers the convenience the clinic offers.

King was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare bone marrow disease, years ago and must receive infusions five times a week every other week to lower the amount of iron in her blood.

“If (iron) accumulates in my organs and gets in my heart it would inhibit me from getting a bone marrow transplant,” King said. “That’s what I’m dealing with right now.”

King was diagnosed in Delaware after she moved there for a few years from Natchez.

She said infusion clinics are not uncommon in Delaware and was happy to see one in the Miss-Lou.

“I had been over at the Dollar General next door and saw the sign and wondered, ‘Is that what I think it is?’” King said. “I was hoping we would get one around here soon.”

While she does not mind visiting hospitals and does so quite frequently, King said the clinic is just more convenient for her schedule.

“I like coming because I can just walk in and you have a quiet environment, and it’s very relaxed,” King said. “I get my treatment, which takes about an hour, and then I leave.”

The clinic will have it’s grand opening in February and Grimmer said they hope to also have a bone marrow drive to help King, and others in need of a transplant, to find successful donors.

The clinic is located at 1643 Carter St. next to the Dollar General.

For more information call 318-336-4444 or e-mail info@misslouinfusion.com.