By David Abercrombie, MCMH CEO
What are some planned medical services that the Madison County Memorial Hospital will implement when the new hospital is built?
Of all questions you have asked, this may be the best. Not because there is some swish-bang answer, but precisely because there isn’t.
We wanted the patient care to be centered on simple concepts. We did not want “pie-in-the-sky” thinking to drive the design and planning processes. We had to get very basic in our thinking, but the new hospital would have to have modern technology to fit into today’s healthcare system.
We knew every successful hospital must fulfill the needs of its users. We are lucky to know exactly who uses our services – the people of Madison County. Every place is different. The people of Madison County have different needs than, say those in a rural Nebraska community. In Madison County the most common disease processes are different; the local economy is different; the miles to get to a hospital are generally further in Nebraska; and of course the values of the people are different. If the people of this county are going to support and use this new hospital, it will have to be built with their specific needs in mind. Otherwise, it will just be another small hospital.
Anyway, we didn’t think a conventional community hospital placed in Madison County would survive over the long term. This was because of the persistent poverty (apart from the current state of our national economy), its static population, and the incredibly difficult changes in the economic and regulatory parts of the hospital industry all across the country. We decided that our patient care must be centered on the hospital’s mission and its values.
Before I get into the details of changes to our service lines, I want you to know that our hospital, like every other hospital in the country specializes. We in Madison County specialize in “family health.” As the months and years go by, please remember this – it’s important. Madison County Memorial Hospital specializes in family health. The values were then changed to: Family, Faith, and (local) History – the things that make the people of Madison County tick.
We designed the new hospital with these values in mind. We set our spending, and building design, and operational priorities according to these values. Like most things, you can spend as much as you like. Just for the record, we would like to spend less than $22,544,400! This is the size of our loan – it is all the money we have for the project.
The new hospital services will be of a type called, “holistic.” This is a fancy word that means that the focus is on the total patient. This includes not just the patients’ physical needs, but his or her emotional needs, and psychological needs too. And their hospital stay is not as stressful for the patient nor the patient’s family.
There is an overwhelming amount of research that proves that when a patient is cared for in this holistic way they generally get well faster.
We set out to design a hospital to support the needs of the patient and family’s human needs. For example, we are building a chapel that might remind you of a tiny chapel from fifty years ago (combining the hospital’s new values of faith and history). We hope it will make us all more comfortable and relaxed. In which case, maybe our prayers will be more focused and thoughtful. That would be nice. And we are building an attached healing room too. And yes, we will be hiring a chaplain.
At this point you might ask, “well this nice, but what has this got to do with this hospital’s healing mission?” It has EVERYTHING to do with it. Remember, our plan is to give our patients what they need to get well faster. So, if along with good medical care, the patients’ values are incorporated in their care, then the things of faith, family, and history are the tools we will use to help make them well. It itself is a service line, of sorts.
Built-in examples of the focus on family at the new hospital are two family duplexes – one across the hall from the other. A door through the wall will link the two rooms of each. This design will allow a parent to stay in an adjoining room with a hospitalized child; or a family member to stay with a family hospice patient. Larger hospitals have ICU rooms for patients with serious medical needs. Our hospital will have two rooms that look like ICU rooms, but are in fact rooms for patients with special needs (not serious illnesses, but special needs). For instance, to better fulfill the needs of a significantly over-weight patient; or a patient recovering from a stroke or knee surgery. These two rooms will each be located on opposite sides of a nurses’ station with a window facing the station, so the nurse can keep a better eye on the patient. A trapeze track running along the ceiling will lead to the bed, then across to a chair by a window, and then on to the bathroom. This trapeze will give the patient something to hold onto and give the patient balance and support as s/he travels around the room. There are other special features to these rooms too, but you get the idea. It is unlikely, in my opinion that any other hospital in the region will be so focused on your human needs as we will be.
There is much, much, much more, but you did specifically ask what medical services will be implemented. There will be two special satellite medical programs associated with a large urban hospital’s sophisticated heart and stroke programs. The Madison County Memorial Hospital will include a chest pain center in its ER; and a stroke-care program, both working as satellite programs to a very sophisticated program in an urban area. Both will use national patient care protocols, telemedicine, digital equipment, and electronic medical records to link and work with the larger hospital.
After the acute care phase of your stay in the larger hospital, you will be back in Madison County for your rehabilitation – only five minutes away from your family.
This means the patient will get first class medical care, beginning in the rural community of Madison County.
There is also a plan to use a telemedicine terminal to connect our ER to a large urban hospital ER; and a second telemedicine terminal linking our family care clinic to specialty physicians around the area. Additionally, we plan programs to attack those disease states that most affect our county residents at higher than State average rates. We will focus on diabetes, hypertension, cancer screening, obesity, heart problems, and stroke. We have already begun to greatly enhance our wound-care capabilities and our swing-bed program too. Within two years of opening the new hospital we expect to add cardiac rehabilitation, and pulmonary rehabilitation. There is also a small, but first rate little operating room planned. Our plan is to (and this is NOT easy) find and recruit a surgeon to do relatively minor surgeries such as appendix and gall bladder removals.
From my way of thinking, our real service line development will be first class family care. We will still be a small 25-bed rural community hospital. The surprise will be on the inside. This little hospital will have top notch equipment and modern technology working within a building uniquely designed to care for your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. And just to make sure we do a great job in taking care of your medical needs, we will operate this new hospital in clinical affiliation with a larger, technologically more sophisticated hospital.
But just to make sure we’re clear – these improvements are not accomplished overnight. As a matter of fact, we began these improvements four-and-a-half years ago, little by little, as available money would allow. The new hospital will be built in about two years. All of the improvements discussed here still won’t have yet been completed. We expect to reach our maximum level of service to your family about five years from now.
We love talking about this subject. If you would like to know more, please contact our community relations coordinator, Vicki Howerton, or me and we’ll be glad to give you the details.