Hospital gets high marks in surprise survey

Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCook Daily Gazette

Half-an-hour's notice was all Community Hospital of McCook was given before surveyors arrived to conduct their unannounced Joint Commission Survey on July 30 through Aug. 1.

"I found out at 7:30 that surveyors would be there at 8," Jim Ulrich, hospital president and CEO, said following a hospital board meeting Aug. 20. And the hospital had financial auditors perusing its financial records at the same time, he said.

Following the inspection and a "successful survey" by the Joint Commission, Community Hospital is accredited again with the Joint Commission's "Gold Seal of Quality," Ulrich said. The survey not only ensures that the hospital is following standards, he said, but provides consultation as well.

"We are extremely proud of the teamwork and ongoing efforts by our staff and medical staff during this survey, and in their continual provision of quality care," Ulrich said.

Ulrich said, too, that he is proud of the clean financial audit accomplished by both the hospital and the Community Hospital Health Foundation. Troy Bruntz, hospital financial vice president and CFO, and his staff members, along with executive director Terri Shipshock and Danette Miller of the Foundation are to be commended on a successful audit, Ulrich said.

During an update on medical staff recruitment efforts, Ulrich announced that a new physician will start at McCook Clinic in July 2009, and the clinic continues the recruiting of additional physicians.

Ulrich said that the hospital continues efforts to find a replacement for orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dan Farrell, who moved this summer with his wife, pediatrician Dr. Kathy Farrell, to work at the Regional Medical Center in Overland Park, Kan.

A visiting specialist (a hand surgeon) will start coming to Community Hospital a couple times a month, beginning in late September, Ulrich said, and there is a possibility of a locum tenens (temporary) orthopedic surgeon starting in McCook, also in September.

Another visiting specialist -- a general orthopedic surgeon -- is being recruited.

Ulrich reported the possibility of two orthopedic surgeons, one from Pennsylvania and the other from Iowa, filling permanent positions at Community Hospital. "I'm very encouraged by these two prospects," Ulrich said.

Ulrich said a very active recruitment committee of 10 people meets weekly to review prospects, to call and follow up on candidates and to set up facility and community tours.

The recruitment of two surgeons for permanent positions and of the visiting specialists helps meet the hospital's and community's needs not only for today, but for tomorrow as well, Ulrich said.

Ulrich said that Jessica Bortner, Compliance /Performance Improvement Officer, reported to board members that an increased number of patients graded Community Hospital's performance as "excellent" (on a rating scale of "excellent," "very good," "good," "fair" and "poor") on recent patient satisfaction surveys.

Over the past year, the hospital's inpatient services rating of "excellent" increased from 52.5 percent to 59 percent; its emergency room rating of excellent grew from 52 percent to 56 percent; and its outpatient surgery rating of excellent went from 61.5 percent to 68 percent.

Ulrich said that although most of Community Hospital's ratings by patients are "excellent" and "very good," loyalty to the facility develops and increases as more ratings move toward "excellent."

"We're pleased with the increase," Ulrich said, "but not satisfied. We're always striving toward improvement."

Janet Fidler, vice president of Community Hospital Patient Care Services, reported to the board Community Hospital's procedures to respond to Nebraska's new "Safe Haven Law," under which no person shall be prosecuted for any crime based solely upon leaving a child in the custody of an employee on duty at a hospital licensed by the State of Nebraska.

Fidler told board members that Community Hospital personnel will attempt to get any medical history of the child left at the hospital. According to hospital policy, after a person surrenders a child, the child may be released only to law enforcement.

As the newest member of the Community Hospital board of directors, Dr. Richard "Rick" Klug had to abstain from one of his first votes -- to approve his own additional colonoscopy privilege.

Dr. Klug is fulfilling the remainder of the hospital board term of Dr. Toby Free who moved this summer to Omaha to work with the residency program of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Ulrich said that Dr. Klug served previously on the hospital board, completing a one-year position held by Dr. Donal Morgan and then serving two consecutive three-year terms to which he was elected.

Ulrich said Dr. Klug's experience with McCook Clinic and with the medical community will benefit the hospital board. "We're happy to have him join our board," Ulrich said.

Dr. Corinne Phillips-Ward was re-elected president and Dr. Mark Serbousek re-elected vice president of the Community Hospital medical staff for 2008-2009, during elections July 9.

Dr. Wade Fornander was elected to serve as secretary-treasurer, and medical staff committee members were appointed.

Ulrich announced during the board meeting that Linda Graff of McCook has been named the winner of Community Hospital's annual "Caring Kind" award.

Graff is a registered radiologic technologist and is a radiology technician for Community Hospital's speciality and orthopedic clinic.

Graff and "Caring Kind" award recipients from across Nebraska will be recognized at the annual convention Oct. 31 of the Nebraska Hospital Association.

Terri Shipshock, executive director of the Community Hospital Health Foundation, told board members that the foundation's "Evening for Hospice" will be Sunday, Nov. 9.

The theme of the annual event will be "Life's a Journey."

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