There’s a new ship launching in health care, and a local hospital president won’t just be on board – he’ll have a hand in designing it. Mike Gillen, president of Mercy Hospital Lebanon, has been chosen to work on a special Mercy project called “Noah’s Ark.” Along with 11 other core team members, he’ll focus on reinventing health care to help patients achieve better health while keeping costs in check.
“We have to re-think pre-conceived notions of what health care looks like,” said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO. “Hospital care is on the endangered species list, and for good reason. We don’t want our hospital beds full of patients – we’d rather keep them healthy. It’s time to start with a clean slate and determine better ways to deliver care so our patients can enjoy their lives. That’s the best way to cut health care costs for everyone.”
Noah’s Ark was envisioned and named by Mike McCurry, Mercy executive vice president and chief operating officer. McCurry explained, “Just as Noah’s Ark was the vessel that carried people through the storm into a brighter future, the Noah’s Ark project will confront the market pressures that all health care providers are facing and chart the course for a better system of care.”
Core team members will spend two years focused full time on this project, which means Gillen will be transitioning from his current position in Lebanon. Michele Schaefer, Mercy senior vice president of regional operations, will take over as interim hospital president. “Mercy Hospital Lebanon has a strong team in place,” said Gillen. “I am very confident in their ability to keep operations on track during this transition. Also, Michele is already deeply involved in our regional hospital operations, so she will hit the ground running.”
Washington, Missouri, serves as the home base and pilot community for Noah’s Ark, but the ultimate redesign will impact all Mercy communities. “We are focused on two very simple concepts,” said Vance Moore, Mercy senior vice president of operations and leader of the Noah’s Ark project. “Recognizing that much about the health care system is broken, we are committed to figuring out how to provide care that meets the highest quality and service standards, at a cost that is affordable and sustainable. And, like Noah – as well as the Sisters of Mercy who founded our ministry – we must be courageous in envisioning a better health care system. We don’t know what the end result will be, but we have the freedom to chart our own course to get there.”
Noah’s Ark team members will seek input and ideas from other Mercy physicians and co-workers, as well as community members. All options are on the table, including new ways of managing patients with chronic conditions to keep them healthy, to expanded use of virtual care that allows patients greater access to specialists closer to home at a more affordable cost.
“The Noah’s Ark core team must have an unconstrained imagination. During this creative process we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable – because the future of health care depends on it,” said Britton.