Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Column: Intern Discovers Healthcare and Grinnell Community

Three weeks. That’s all I have remaining at Grinnell Regional Medical Center before I head back to school. Could time possibly go by any faster? There is so much more I want to learn from the incredible people who spend their days at this institution. During my short tenure here I have been exposed to a variety of learning experiences, and I wanted to take the time to share some of these things with you.

I’ll start with a brief introduction as to who I am and why I am here. I am an Iowan—born and raised. I attended the University of Iowa for my undergraduate years and obtained a bachelor’s degree in finance. I didn’t spread my wings too far when I enrolled in the MHA and MBA programs immediately following graduation, again at the University of Iowa. I finished my first year of graduate school this May—only two years to go before I am finally able to venture out into the great unknown called “the healthcare industry.”

In April I had the absolute pleasure of attending the annual American Hospital Association meeting in Washington D.C. with Todd Linden and three GRMC board members: Dr. Michelle Rebelsky, Susan Witt, and Ed Hatcher. The trip was exceptional. I can honestly say that I learned more about health policy and reform during that week than I had the whole academic year. D.C. was stunning and we had the opportunity to see many of the awe-inspiring sites! Once back in Iowa, I was filled with motivation and couldn’t wait to begin my summer internship at GRMC.

Once summer arrived, I packed up my things and headed (not too far) West. The first few weeks of my internship were spent getting to know GRMC, the people who work here, and the exciting things going on. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on many interesting meetings, ranging from the Mercy affiliation to patient satisfaction initiatives. Even more thrilling, I was able to scrub up one morning and watch two surgeries in the operating room! Being a numbers and words gal, the exposure to the anatomy of the human body was an experience, to say the least. I was also fortunate enough to be able to spend a night shift in the hospital with one of the house supervisors, Mary Banta. I hoped to stay awake until 6 a.m., but I ended up wandering home around 3 a.m.! It was a great experience to be able to get a sense of how a hospital operates during the evening hours. Now I have my fingers crossed that somehow I will be lucky enough to observe a birth before my time here is up!

When I’m not at the hospital, I enjoy the quaint atmosphere and stellar lattes downtown at Saints Rest Coffee House. I also frequent the farmer’s market on Thursday evenings and get some great deals on fresh produce while listening to the live music. I’ve caught a movie at the Strand and purchased a few books at the Pioneer Bookshop. I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated my time in Grinnell and am grateful for all of the wonderful interactions and experiences I have had. Go Tigers (and Hawkeyes!).

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, July 17, 2009

GRMC's 2008 Annual Report

Your hospital. Our story. This video clip shows me introducing GRMC’s first online annual report. We decided to go green to save some green. The online version replaces the print version of our annual report. By creating in this format, we were able to save a significant amount of money for the medical center and be good stewards of our resources. Click on this link to see and hear the rest of our annual report.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Affiliation Open Forum

On Monday, July 6, I held a public open forum to discuss Grinnell Regional Medical Center's affiliation with Mercy Health Network.

The open forum was taped, and below are a few clips from the evening's discussions with me and Joe LeValley from Mercy Health Network.

Under this proposed agreement, GRMC would contract services and share best practices with Mercy network hospitals. The proposal does not call for a change of ownership or a merger. The GRMC board of directors would retain control over the medical center. No assets would be exchanged. This is not a sale of the hospital.

An affiliation with Mercy has the potential for cost savings and sharing ideas for improvement on a continuous basis. For example, GRMC could lower costs through shared contracting, improve revenues through strength in payor negotiations, share continuing education costs, and improve quality and service through shared best practices and innovations.

Additionally, there is potential savings from increased access to specialized expertise. This could include, but is not limited to help with physician recruiting, information technology expertise, joint venture opportunities with large clinical equipment purchases, etc. The financial benefits of such an affiliation will be significant in terms of what GRMC will save as being a part of a larger purchasing group alone.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Watching Out for You

I’ve sat with friends and a few of our very ill employees in our ICU and it can be a tense time. Life feels so vulnerable in critical health situations. The level of trust and confidence in the physicians, nursing staff, and technology is accentuated.

I understand the need for the best staff and technology. So I’m proud to welcome the electronic intensive care unit as another way to give confidence and trust to our patients and their families. The eICU is a monitoring system to watch a critical patient’s vitals and health status.

The capabilities of this technology are quite impressive. The unit monitors our critical patient and sends the patient’s information to an intensivist (board certified critical care physician) in the Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines eICU center. There the intensivist can monitor heart rates, blood pressure, view x-rays, review lab results, and even watch the patient’s breathing or the IV drip. The ability to watch for subtle changes in a patient’s condition can make a different in his or her outcome. The marvel of this instant video links and data transfer allows patients to remain at the GRMC ICU or ER closer to family and freinds. If a patient’s condition meets the criteria, the unit is set up and watches over the patient. Unless you are in critical condition, you won’t ever use this technology but it is reassuring that the equipment is available if needed.

Though patient outcome was the first priority for implementing the technology, this addition also addresses operational challenges in healthcare, especially rural hospitals. The current national shortage in internal medicine physicians hits small hospitals worse than urban hospitals. GRMC has experienced difficulties in recruiting and retaining internists because the 24/7 demand is just not sustainable for a solo-practice physician. The eICU provides a watchful eye on our sickest, most critical patients when the hospitalist is off duty. By adding this technology, it helped us recruit an exceptional internist, Christine Lindgren, DO, PhD. The high cost of an ICU also limits small hospitals and this eICU addition expands capabilities for patients at a lower cost. The eICU also helps address the nursing shortage and aging workforce challenges.

The electronic intensive care unit is considered one of many best practices that improve patient outcomes. So when a loved one is in GRMC’s intensive care or emergency department with a critical condition, you can be confident a watchful eye is monitoring them carefully.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

GRMC Board Votes to Affiliate with Mercy Health Network

GRMC’s board of directors has approved an affiliation agreement with Mercy Health Network.

I’m very pleased with this decision and look forward to a great relationship that will be mutually beneficial to both organizations.

I’ll be holding an open forum about the affiliation for members of the community at 6 p.m., Monday, July 6, in the Tomasek Conference Room at GRMC. Mercy Health Network representatives will also be there. You are invited to come and learn about the affiliation and ask any questions you may have. GRMC is your hospital and I know you are proud of that fact. This affiliation—NOT a merger or a buyout—promises to benefit GRMC patients for years to come. Come see how firsthand.

For those of you who can’t make it to the community open forum, please know that we’ll be taping the conversation and I’ll share some clips from the video next week on my blog. Check back here to view them.


The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.