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Published: Synapse 2012, Vol. 2
"A Position of Strength."
This was the phrase the Chairman of The Chester County Hospital and Health System's Board of Directors chose in a recent letter to constituents as he announced the Health System's intention to seek a corporate partner.
We stand in a position of strength because next Summer The Chester County Hospital will be welcoming patients to a brand new 93,000 sq. ft. patient tower so it can care for more people each year and offer the highest level of amenities and services.
We stand in a position of strength because we are launching a complete redesign of our Emergency Department to enhance efficiencies, to improve the design of our facility, and to reduce wait times.
We stand in a position of strength because we invested in the most advanced daVinci Si Robotic Surgical platform and successfully completed 270 surgical cases in its first 12 months of operation, far surpassing our first-year goal. The hospital just celebrated its 300th robotic surgery.
And, we stand in a position of strength because we ensure the highest quality standards for heart care, having received Accreditation for Cardiovascular Excellence for cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).
Beyond these exciting projects and achievements, we continually strengthen our technology systems.
We constantly re-analyze and hone our clinical processes. We work to exceed national benchmarks for quality with greater success every year. We strive to keep our expenses streamlined and any costs to our patients low.
This is what we do at The Chester County Hospital and Health System. It is a natural part of our culture to push and push and push ourselves to become a stronger healthcare organization. The best way we can serve you is to continually strive to be better at what we do. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.
Yes, we stand in a position of strength. Yet, you may have heard that we announced in August that we are seeking a strategic partner. Chairman William W. Wylie, Jr.'s full statement reads, "We begin from a position of strength, but the landscape is changing rapidly and we believe that health care institutions face increased risk in this new health care environment. It is our duty, as a Board, to be proactive in assessing the future of health care and the needs of our institution.
The increasing demands placed upon the health care industry are causing many hospitals and health systems in our region and across the country to consider new options and models of care. The Health System's Board has concluded that the best way for the institution to maintain its ability to deliver on its mission into the future is to look beyond independence and seek a partnership.
The Health System's President and CEO, Michael J. Duncan, says, "We are uniquely positioned in one of the best markets in the Philadelphia region and we boast a strong reputation, excellent clinical services, and a loyal Medical Staff. It is clear that health care will continue to be capital intensive as our community grows and the trend of delivering care closer to home accelerates."
It is that unwavering mission to provide the highest quality of care that drives us to continue to build, to plan and to grow. This past March, the Hospital broke ground on a $45.2 million expansion that will ultimately add 72 additional private patient rooms. The new rooms will include a large window for daylight to foster healing, a bedside clinical computer, a recliner for visitors, a dining area, a flat-panel TV, free internet, extra space for get-well gifts, in-room controls for individual lighting and heat, and a bathroom designed to reduce the risk of falling.
Mike Duncan, President and CEO, adds his signature to the several hundred of names of employees, physicians, volunteers and construct ion team members who signed the ceremonial Topping Out beam.
The Tower Project also includes the addition of a second vault to house the latest, state-of-the-art Varian Linear Accelerator for the Hospital's Radiation Oncology program to offer the latest advancements in radiation therapy for our cancer patients. A linear accelerator is a piece of technology that uses electricity to form a stream of fast-moving subatomic particles creating high energy radiation to treat cancer.
The Health System recently celebrated the Topping Out milestone when the last piece of steel - along with an evergreen tree and U.S. flag - was hoisted into position.
When the Tower opens in the summer of 2013, it will initially be fit out with 24 beds on the fourth floor to expand the capacity of the Telemetry Unit for patients who need continuous heart monitoring. In time, the remaining two floors will be completed to match the growing needs of the Hospital and community. Bringing the new Telemetry beds on line first will provide us with the added capacity to accommodate Emergency Department (ED) admissions and will enhance our ability to triage inpatients more quickly.
Topping Out 2012
And speaking of ED admissions, the Health System sought the insight of the Penn State Hershey Medical
Center Team to analyze opportunities for improvement within an emergency department that treats more than 40,000 patients each year. Penn State Hershey's ED Interdisciplinary Committee (EDIC) is a model for collaboration to address the complexities required to create more effective emergency care.
Based on the EDIC recommendations, our Emergency Department will be improving the frontline patient- assessment process by following a "Physician Directed Queuing" system, also known as PDQ. In the coming months, our ED will be addressing its unique information system (IS) needs, maximizing the responsibilities of its team for more efficient patient care, and reconfiguring its physical space to better accommodate the high volume of patients and waiting families in the ED.
Within the confines of the existing ED footprint, the Health System will increase the amount of patient care space and organize the treatment areas based on the patient's level of emergency ultimately to improve the transition of patients from walk-in to inpatient admission or to outpatient discharge.
The Health System anticipates that, once fully implemented, the PDQ model will significantly reduce its average ED wait times, and enable the Hospital to handle roughly 9,000 more emergency visits annually.
As the Hospital anticipates a re-engineered ED, the grand opening of its sizable new patient wing, and enhanced technology for its cancer program, some may wonder, why would the Health System move forward with plans for construction during a time when it seeks a partner?
Paul F. Huberty, Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning and Marketing, explains, "The right partnership will provide us with the resources necessary to build upon our already excellent position in the community. To do that, we need to build more private rooms to meet consumer expectations, add more physicians to our Medical Staff, purchase new technology, and expand the number of our locations throughout the county."
Duncan adds, "The Chester County Hospital and Health System has proudly served our community for 120 years and has earned a reputation of doing what is right for our community, patients and family. Our Mission has been and will continue to be one of service - to provide the highest quality health care to all who come to us in need. It is a guiding principle for which we are quite proud, and one that continues unchanged."
By Lisa M. Huffman
Photos by John Welsh and Richard Bell
For many decades, the national conversation has centered on the rising costs of health care, inconsistent quality metrics across the industry, the impact of the baby-boomer generation on the demand for health care services, and how the country, businesses and individuals cannot afford to sustain these high costs. Many efforts are underway at all levels to "bend the cost curve;" that is, to reduce the rate of growth in health care services and expenses. These efforts, and more to be developed under national health care reform, are designed to encourage higher quality and patient satisfaction while reducing the amount of money paid to hospitals and physicians. Forming larger and more integrated systems of care will improve and help to standardize patient care, provide better coordination of services through integrated information systems, and allow organizations to achieve greater efficiency.
Opportunities based on the PDQ Model
Last Updated: 12/3/2012