An announcement of significant importance was made last week when Mercy Health System held a community Roundtable at the Elks Hall.
Lynn Britton, president and chief executive officer of the Mercy System, and Mike McCurry, chief operating officer, addressed more than 100 community leaders and announced that Mercy Hospital Washington had been selected as the site to plan a new health care model for the entire Mercy system.
Mercy’s new model for health care will optimize 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 — because of the community involvement and support we’ve come to expect from this community,” McCurry said. “We can’t plan for the future without community input, and we’ll be continuing to seek that support as we move forward.”
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the country and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, has 39,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 integrated physicians in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. It also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
“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,” McCurry said.
Mercy’s plan to build a new hospital in the next decade, announced in 2011, 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,” Terri McLain, president, Mercy Hospital Washington, said. “Our planning process will ensure that what we do meet the needs of the community for generations to come.”
Another speaker was Dr. Dave Chalk, head of Mercy Clinic, which includes all of the integrated physicians. He, along with the other speakers, presented information about Mercy’s progress since the last community roundtable two years ago. Challenges were discussed along with trends facing all health care providers, and Mercy’s response.
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 hospital and medical building. When Mercy and Patients First Health Care integrated, we instantly met several of the objectives of that plan,” McLain said.
The integration added 77 physicians, 550 co-workers and 20 medical offices in six counties. It also included a medical building in Washington. At the same time Mercy invested in its existing structure. In Washington, Mercy renovated and expanded its emergency department and cardiac rehab center, updated its labor and delivery suites, added a second cardiac catheterization lab, and its intensive care unit has been expanded and renovated. That project is nearing completion.
In addition to the former Patients First physicians, other doctors have been recruited.
Dr. Chalk said all of these improvements were made to meet the immediate medical needs of the community. “Now we are 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 in other roundtable events, the purpose is to provide information and hear from participants about how to improve community health. The roundtable discussions in the past 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 Health Teacher to bring an online health education program into area classrooms. And, Mercy and Patients First began a dialogue that led to a merger.