Putting patients first

Craig Hall, Publisher

Local hospitals use technology, customer service and quality to give their patients the best care available across the region and state.

By Craig Hall

The Grand Valley has always been known for tackling issues locally, rather than waiting for national mandates or solutions. The issues of our nation’s healthcare concerns are no different. Grand Valley residents can rest assured that both St. Mary’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and Community Hospital are addressing the situation in a proactive and forward-thinking manner.

Building a reputation for excellence

Once again, Community Hospital has been recognized by HealthGrades. They have recently received the General Surgery Excellence Awards for 2012. HealthGrades, the nation’s most trusted source for researching doctors and hospitals, bestowed these awards after researching patients at nearly 5000 American hospitals and using 40 million hospitalization records.

“What’s important about this study is that it involves not just the patient’s initial visit or surgery,” says Chris Thomas, CEO of Community Hospital, “But it tracks the patients after surgery for numbers of infections, revisits or complications to complete the rating process. To earn Five Star ratings in so many areas speaks volumes to our commitment to care before, during and after your visit to Community.”

This is very important in growing the hospital indicates Thomas because increasingly, perspective patients are changing how they use the Internet to obtain medical information. Previously, much of online research was dedicated to searching information on disease or treatments, but more and more, value-based, “empowered” patients are using the web to find quality information on doctors and hospitals—all to the tune of over 10 million times every month.

And being highly-ranked in a place where potential patients look to find the best place to seek their care is important to Community. “We offer services across all medical spectrums.” Says Thomas, “So what is important is that we have high quality in all areas where we do offer services in our staff, doctors and processes.”

Thomas also notes that the HealthGrades awards are not something any hospital can seek to earn or pay to receive, they awarded on performance.

Thomas is pleased with direction Community Hospital in now headed in, particularly over the past few years where the hospital had more than its share of struggles. “I’m sure some medical terms could be used to better describe things,” muses Thomas, “But the community inside the hospital really responded to the challenges during a time where we needed a financial and overall turnaround.  Our goal was to create the low-cost, high-quality and great value alternative for hospital services in the Grand Valley, and everyone from doctors to nurses to anesthesiologists to housekeepers and staff responded with the effort to bring us back to where we are today.”

And that is on the cusp of breaking ground on the new hospital near the intersection of 24 and G Roads where Community will be able to offer better and more services to the residents of the Grand Valley and across the region. The hospital will feature private rooms with family comfort in mind, a medical office building/clinic to attract more doctors and specialists and once again, Community Hospital is looking forward to delivering babies.

“What’s important here is that whatever we build facilities-wise, it gives our patients the opportunity to experience Community Hospital’s legendary, personal approach to care,” says Thomas, “And we’re looking forward to realizing that in the near future.”

 Latest generation technology means more options for robotic surgery

Robotic technology has been used by surgeons at St. Mary’s since 2007. Using this amazing tool, the surgeon sits at a video console directing the actions of four robotic arms. Now a new version of the robotic daVinci® Surgical System gives St. Mary’s surgeons enhanced images, greater agility, and the opportunity to perform surgeries previously not done with the robotic tool.

St. Mary’s new robotic system includes a special imaging technology helpful in cancer surgery. The imaging technology, called Firefly, distinguishes between normal tissue and cancer tissue allowing surgeons to identify and remove cancer cells.

Surgeons and surgical staff are now being trained, and St. Mary’s Surgical Services department is evaluating the types of surgery best suited to the features of the new da Vinci. The new surgical system may allow St. Mary’s to expand robotic surgery services to colorectal, throat, and gynecologic cancers. The new da Vinci system gives surgeons another option for choosing the best tools and methods that result in the shortest, safest surgery and fastest recovery for each patient.