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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 Center.

“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.