Franciscan Alliance: Patient care always at the forefront

2014-03-16T00:00:00Z Franciscan Alliance: Patient care always at the forefront
March 16, 2014 12:00 am

Franciscan Alliance, University of Chicago Medicine form partnership

The University of Chicago Medicine and Franciscan Alliance have entered into a master affiliation agreement that creates a novel partnership between a prominent academic medical center and a leading regional health system. The affiliation provides for the joint development and implementation of clinical, research and educational initiatives.

Officials from both institutions emphasized the synergies that will result from the affiliation agreement, which focuses on the University of Chicago Medicine and Franciscan Alliance’s Northwest Indiana facilities including Crown Point, Michigan City, Dyer, Hammond and Munster.

“By combining the world-class tertiary and quaternary care and research capabilities of the University of Chicago Medicine with Franciscan Alliance’s extensive network of community-based hospitals and ambulatory centers, we will enhance patient care locally and provide seamless access and continuity for patients needing care at any level,” said Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance’s president and chief executive officer.

Franciscan Alliance, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the Midwest, has emerged as a leader in new approaches to payment and care delivery models. In December 2011, it formed the Franciscan Alliance Accountable Care Organization, the first and only federally recognized “Pioneer ACO” in Indiana and among the first in the country to partner with Medicare as an ACO. Headquartered in Mishawaka, Franciscan Alliance provides primary and specialty care services throughout its multi-state hospital system that includes more than 40 ambulatory sites.

The University of Chicago Medicine, an academic medical institution that includes the Pritzker School of Medicine, ranked eighth among medical schools in the country, attracts patients regionally, nationally and internationally for its specialty care services. Its faculty physicians undertake research in an extensive array of areas and are in the top five U.S. medical schools in generating federal research dollars per faculty member.

“This partnership brings together two health care systems that share both a dedication to excellence in patient care and a desire to develop new models of care in a rapidly changing health care marketplace,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine.

No reason to travel elsewhere, Franciscan Alliance provides all-inclusive help for lung cancer treatment

A comprehensive lung cancer treatment program is another reason Franciscan Alliance patients need not travel outside of the area for the best, most timely care.

“From diagnostics to therapeutics to surgery to recovery, our hospitals offer it all. We can do anything a ‘big-city’ hospital can do, with timeliness being a key factor,” said Michael Meska, Franciscan Alliance regional director for respiratory therapy, adding Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City, Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point and Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer and Hammond are accredited, with commendation, by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

The process begins with low-dose, CT Scan screenings, which are recommended for persons aged 55 or older, who are current or former smokers and are done following an initial patient assessment.

Smokers whose screenings are negative are referred to American Cancer Society cessation programs and are monitored.

Those whose results are positive, if the mass is small, enter a watchful-waiting program for six months to a year for assessment, Meska says.

Those whose tumors are larger are candidates for endobronchial ultrasound and electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy -- minimally invasive technology that allows lung lesions that are located beyond the reach of traditional bronchoscopes to be visualized and accessed.

Using a CT scan, computer software creates a virtual 3-D road map through the deep passages of the lungs. Once a catheter-type tool is inserted into the airway and reaches the tumor, tissue can be harvested for biopsy, tumor changes can be tracked and a marker can be placed to pinpoint the location for subsequent radiation treatment.

“Without it, we would have to use a needle to go into the lung, which has risks; or even do surgery, which has more risks,” says Don H. Dumont, M.D., a pulmonary medicine specialist. “But ENB is an outpatient procedure and the only recovery time needed is due to anesthesia.”

The hospitals also offer radiation therapy, medical oncology, brachytherapy and infusion services, as well as state-of-the-art Linear Accelerators, which allow for minimally invasive treatment and higher radiation doses, usually in two minutes or less.

If surgery is needed, Eias Jweied, Ph.D., M.D., and Chadrick Cross, M.D., perform video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy, which is minimally invasive, involves smaller incisions and results in less pain and faster patient recovery times. Average hospital stays are two to three days, compared to seven to 10 days.

“The public needs to know this procedure is available locally, since many people think they have to drive to Chicago to receive it. They don’t need to travel to Chicago; we bring the highest-quality services here, to them,” Dr. Jweied said.

The procedure, which mostly treats stages one and two lung cancers, involves using a small camera that is introduced into the patient through a scope, which allows the physician to view the instruments and the anatomy. The camera and instruments are inserted through ports, which helps to reduce the chances for infection and allows for a faster recovery.

Besides physicians, nurse navigators perform an invaluable role for patients throughout the treatment process, Meska points out.

“They help the patient navigate through all stages; they hold their hands through the process to explain and help them understand what is going on.”

Cancer support groups also are available at the hospitals.

“We have university-academically trained physicians and offer quality, more timely care along the continuum - from diagnosis, to treatment, which every patient deserves – all in our neck of the woods,” Meska says.

Franciscan Alliance hospitals earn Chest Pain Center accreditation, reaccreditation

Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point and Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City recently received Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, while Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer and Hammond received reaccreditation.

Accredited hospitals have achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with heart attack symptoms.

Such hospitals undergo a rigorous, onsite evaluation by review specialists, which assures centers meet or exceed quality-of-care measures in acute cardiac medicine. They must demonstrate expertise in the following areas:

* Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system.

* Assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly.

* Effectively treating patients with low risk of acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms.

* Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures.

* Ensuring the competence and training of personnel.

* Maintaining organizational structure and commitment.

* Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care.

* Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display heart attack symptoms.

Hospital Chest Pain Center directors praised their staffs and colleagues for the honors.

“This is the culmination of an excellent collaborative process between the hospitals’ physicians, staff and ancillary services to provide the best care possible for patients experiencing acute coronary syndrome,” said Eric Cook, D.O., of Franciscan St. Margaret Health.

Carl Metcalf, M.D., of Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point, added, “Accreditation is a benefit to Chest Pain Center patients since it assures the kind of quality of care they will receive and puts us on the cutting edge of providing them the best possible treatment.”

Neil Malhotra, M.D., of Franciscan St. Anthony Health Michigan City, called the designation exciting, adding, “I am very impressed with the hard work of the staff. It shows how dedicated we are to providing the best possible care for our patients.”

About the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care

The Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care is an international not-for-profit organization that focuses on transforming cardiovascular care by assisting facilities in their effort to create communities of excellence that bring together quality, cost and patient satisfaction. As the only cross-specialty organization, SCPC provides the support needed for individual hospitals and hospital systems to effectively bridge existing gaps in treatment by providing the tools, education and support necessary to successfully navigate the changing face of healthcare. For more information on SCPC, accreditation and certification opportunities, visit, or call toll free, 1-877-271-4176.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Featured Businesses



Should the Indiana attorney general's office compel all Lake County municipalities to merge E-911 dispatch services?

View Results