Thursday, December 22, 2011

Closing the Book on 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, it's appropriate to reflect on the past year.

In many ways, Santa has been very good to GRMC. We have welcomed many new employees and medical staff members.

We are fully staffed in our internal medicine department with the additions of Drs. Ron Collins and Todd Janicki, who join Dr. Chris Lindgren. This is a magnificient team who will serve the adult medicine needs of the communities we serve for years to come.

Last December, we welcomed Dr. Steven Ellestad to our emergency department. At that same time, we also welcomed Dr. Seanna Thompson as our first OB/GYN specialist. As they each finish their first year here, it is clear that they have distinguished themselves as excellent additions to the GRMC team.

Dr. Soraya Rodriquez rounded out the physician newcomers this year, bringing new levels of service and expertise to the laboratory as our resident pathologist.

Nurse anesthetist Troy Anderson joined his wife Alexzandra (now full time), and Dr. Emge in our anesthesia department in late 2010. We are blessed to have such a caring and expert team serving our anesthesia needs.

Jill Jensen, physician assistant, also joined our team this year. She leads our employee health and corporate wellness efforts. She is also filling in throughout our system during various leaves.

This year is also proving to be one of the best years for the annual fund drive - again showing us how much the community supports the important work of GRMC. The annual fund has raised more than $350,000 to date for operating and capital needs. The annual fund is absolutely vital to GRMC.

From these funds, we have purchased two of four needed anesthesia units for the surgery department, and funds are still coming in to purchase the remaining two. The first two units arrived last week to the delight of our anesthesia providers! In addition, this week we were able to order a much-needed new van for our mobile services unit thanks to gifts dedicated to that service.

The annual fund allows us to distribute 550 bicycle helmets to all third graders in the GRMC service area. Each helmet is specially-fitted for every child.

The Community Care Clinic provided more than 375 patient visits this past year, thanks to gifts made to the annual fund.

We had a great party in September at the Grinnell Municipal Airport with more than 300 guests dancing to the tunes of The Dweebs. Our first Blue Jean Ball raised about $16,000 to support surgical needs.

And back in the beginning of 2011, we installed our first fixed-based MRI in our radiology department. No more going outside in the Iowa winter for an MRI anymore, thanks to more than $300,000 in donations from the community.

As you know, not everything is merry and bright. We continue to face financial challenges. You have heard about our poor Medicare and Medicaid payments. Our challenges are big, but they are not desperate. There are many things to look forward to in 2012.

In January, GRMC will see a significant increase in our Medicare payment rates through a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program. The purpose of the project is to see how rural middle-sized hospitals would fare if they were only reimbursed for their costs when caring for Medicare patients when they are hospitalized. While this covers inpatient care only, it is a welcome increase when GRMC has been reimbursed far below our costs to provide care.

We teamed up with Surgical Associates to bring another new general surgeon to Grinnell - Mathew Severidt, DO will come to our community in July 2012.

We are finalizing an agreement for a new orthopedic surgeon to also join us in the summer.

We have a new nurse practitioner, Jessie Collum, joining Deer Creek Health Center in February.

Gifts from two donors have provided us with funding to finish remodeling the first floor hallway and replace flooring in the cafeteria.

I could go on. The point is, despite difficult times, the staff and volunteers at GRMC continue to work together for the benefit of the people we serve. Good things are happening. The care we deliver is of high quality and efficiently provided. We are proud of our collective efforts to fulfill the vital mission and promise to the people we serve.

Our future depends on many things, but mostly on us, the dedicated and talented women and men who make up our team - supported by an expert and caring medical staff, committed board and foundation board, extraordinary auxiliary, and a very supportive community. We will indeed overcome our financial challenges and continue to be one of the best rural hospitals anywhere.

As the year draws to a close, let me wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy and happy New Year!

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