Burn center opens in Rankin Co.

A new burn center has opened in Rankin

County after Mississippi went nearly two years without any such

treatment facility in the state.

Rankin Medical Center's outpatient burn center opened Friday and

took on 14 patients from three states.

Hospital officials say the privately funded facility will reduce

the need for patients to travel to the nation's largest burn

center, which is in Georgia.

The Mississippi Firefighters Memorial Burn Center in Greenville,

which was at the time the state's only burn unit, shut down in 2005

over a lack of funding. The facility, which was part of the private

Delta Regional Medical Center, closed after lawmakers declined to

offer millions in aid to the ailing unit.

While the state still has no inpatient burn unit, advocates say

the facility in Rankin County will help. Doctors from the Augusta,

Ga.-based Joseph M. Still Burn Center will visit the Rankin

facility two days each month to provide outpatient care to patients

from Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

"This partnership is the first step in restoring burn care to

Mississippi," said Kendall Golden, west central vice president of

the Mississippi Fire Chiefs Association.

Golden said the association has been fighting for a unit since

Firefighters' Memorial Burn Center closed.

The new venture in Rankin County will allow patients to receive

outpatient care from the same doctors who treat them in Georgia,

said Dr. Fred Mullins, medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn


"Any time you can keep continuity of care, you get better

overall care," Mullins said.

Previously, patients had to make the six-hour trip to Georgia to

receive any treatment. That can be tough on patients and their

families, Mullins said.