Washington, Mo. – Mercy is living up to promises made two years ago in Washington, and making new promises to shape health care services in the region – including the development of a new health care model.
Two years ago, Mercy leaders announced plans to invest $236 million in more physicians and services at more locations throughout the region. “That plan included a new medical building and a new hospital. When Mercy and Patients First Health Care integrated, we instantly met several of the objectives of that plan,” said Terri McLain, president of Mercy Hospital Washington.
The integration added 77 physicians, 550 co-workers and 20 medical offices in six counties. It also included a modern, easily accessible medical building near the existing hospital. At the same time, Mercy invested in its existing infrastructure. Mercy Hospital Washington renovated and expanded its emergency department and cardiac rehabilitation center, updated its labor and delivery suites, added a second cardiac catheterization laboratory, and its intensive care unit is currently finishing an extensive expansion and renovation. In addition to the Patients First physicians, other physicians have been recruited to Mercy.
“All of these improvements were made to meet the immediate medical needs of the community,” said Dr. David Chalk, president of Mercy Clinic. “Now, we’re looking to the future to determine how to continue to deliver the best medicine to those we serve, while also meeting the demands of a changing and challenging health care climate.”
As part of planning for the future, Mercy held a community roundtable November 12 at the Elk’s Lodge in Washington with about 105 community leaders in attendance. It was the third event of its kind since 2010. The purpose is to both provide information and hear from participants about how to improve community health.
At past community roundtable discussions, participants expressed concerns about health education for children and a desire for Mercy and Patients First to work together. In response to those concerns, Mercy collaborated with HealthTeacher to bring an online health education program into area classrooms, and Mercy and Patients First began a dialogue that eventually led to a merger.
At this year’s community roundtable, McLain and Dr. Chalk, along with Lynn Britton, president and chief executive officer of Mercy, and Mike McCurry, chief operating officer, presented information about Mercy’s progress since the last community roundtable two years ago and discussed challenges and trends facing all health care providers, and Mercy’s response.
One of Mercy’s announcements in 2011 included plans to build a new hospital in the next decade. That plan now is evolving. “There are different ways of considering the current model of a traditional, centralized hospital, and we are at the point of exploring what’s best for our community,” said McLain. “Our planning process will ensure that what we do meets the needs of the community for generations to come.”
McCurry added, “Across most of our communities, we’re taking a close look at how we best deliver care, whether that’s in a hospital, an outpatient clinic or some hybrid we haven’t yet established.”
Leaders went on to announce that the Washington division of Mercy has been selected as the pilot site for planning and implementing the next phase of Mercy’s new model of care that optimizes a strong physician-hospital partnership and innovative ideas for providing care.
“Washington is the perfect place for us to plan and build our future model because of our strong integrated structure – and because of the community involvement and support we’ve come to expect from this community,” said McCurry. “We can’t plan for the future without community input, and we’ll be continuing to seek that support as we move forward.”