1. What are the great strengths of your healthcare system?
Our physicians and staff are the great strengths of Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center. Their dedication to excellence allows us to offer university-level care combined with the highly personalized service of community-based hospitals. In recent years, our hospitals have pioneered new technology, such as CyberKnife to target previously untreatable tumors, robotics surgery and positron emission mammography for enhanced breast cancer imaging. We have introduced innovative models of care such as our same-day results mammogram program, rapid result testing for cancer and nurse navigators who guide patients and their families through the complexities of care. Advanced accreditations and national rankings distinguish the high level of care. This includes Community Hospital’s Healthgrades’ America’s 50 Best Hospitals distinction that demonstrates quality care across 26 different procedures and diagnoses.
2. Where is the growth of your business going to come from near-term?
Making our diagnostic and physician services more accessible, we have most recently opened outpatient centers in Hammond, Valparaiso and Schererville. Immediate care services available at these centers offer treatment for non-urgent medical conditions. With the support of on-site diagnostics, such as lab, x-ray, CT and MRI, patients can often get all the tests they need in just one visit to the Immediate Care located within.
Another area of growth will come from our expanded Community Care Network of primary care and specialty physicians. As more care is provided in the outpatient setting, these physicians are collaborating with our hospitals on ways to reduce the burdens of illness on our patients, their families and the community.
3. What are the most important strategic investments and innovations you are making in your business right now that will pay off in the future?
Digital technology is radically transforming everything in our lives including healthcare. Our investments in medical informatics will lead to greater efficiencies, making care safer and better coordinated. Innovations include reminder systems to identify patients due for preventive care and alerts for possible drug interactions. With patient’s medical information now stored electronically, instead of paper charts, it can more quickly be analyzed to help drive further improvements in the quality and efficiency of care. Electronic medical record systems are in place at all three hospitals and are being integrated throughout the physician practices of the Community Care Network. As patients move between different sites of care, their health information moves with them so we can avoid unnecessary duplication of tests and provide for better care coordination.
4. What do you consider your most important achievement in the past 3 years?
We have made key investments in technology and infrastructure that will position our hospitals to meet future challenges. One of these investments includes expanded capacity at all three of our hospitals to address the dramatic growth in emergency room visits. Addressing the quality of the care we provide for life-threatening conditions, our hospitals have worked over the past several years to become one of a select number nationwide to achieve accreditation for chest pain and stroke care. This higher level of expertise is improving the care for patients who arrive with symptoms of heart attack or stroke, the top causes of death in our community.
5. What is your biggest challenge/opportunity coming up in 2014?
We are in the process of a multi-phased expansion that will enable Community Hospital to perform more surgeries and provide specialized care for more patients. The four-story tower now under construction will house private patient rooms, a new Family Birthing Center and Level III Neonatal Unit. Construction on a new surgical pavilion for St. Mary Medical Center will begin this fall creating an advanced and expanded surgical department and intensive care unit for critically ill patients. To improve the community’s access to mental health services, St. Catherine Hospital expanded its neuropsychological services through the newly opened Center for Mental Wellness on US 30 in Schererville. The broad range of outpatient services provided there include treatment for anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity and more, as well as autism and developmental disabilities, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, substance abuse, addictions and more.
Our biggest challenge for the future is helping patients prevent and better manage chronic disease. We are creating new models of wellness care, such as the New Healthy Me program, which has promoted healthy behaviors and reduced healthcare expenses among the employees of the Community Healthcare System. This is one of the upcoming opportunities we will be promoting to help area businesses achieve these same benefits and create healthier workplaces.