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March 1, 2015  |  VOLUME 31, NUMBER 4

Storm-hardened Mercy Hospital Joplin set for March 22 opening


JOPLIN, Mo. — Mercy Hospital Joplin will open a permanent replacement hospital here on March 22, almost four years after a massive tornado cut a deadly swath through this southwest Missouri city, resulting in 161 deaths and the destruction of the former Mercy hospital, St. John's Regional Medical Center.

Joplin is still rebuilding. A typical residential street in the storm zone shows renewal and signs of lingering destruction. New homes and houses under construction stand alongside cleared lots. The few mature trees that survived the storm appear wind ravaged and gnarled. Despite reposted street signs, parts of the city can be difficult to navigate due to some new roads and addresses.

"Every day it's a struggle. Even today, it's a struggle," said Tammy Comer, 52, from her family room in a new home.

CHI and MedSynergies bring efficient practice management to doctors' offices

A father-and-son doctor team ran Primary Care Associates in Shelbyville, Ky., a city of about 15,000 people, much thejre same from year to year.

Dr. Ron Waldridge Sr. opened the family practice 45 years ago and is semiretired. His son, Dr. Ron Waldridge II, said many of their business-office habits "amounted to an oral tradition. Dad would tell a new employee how to greet patients. He might holler if something wasn't done correctly."

Alexian issues smartphones to head off diabetes in at-risk adolescents


When is a phone more than a phone? When it provides positive reinforcement to help young people improve their fitness and nutrition, periodic social gatherings with a network of new friends and even a little friendly competition.

Through Alexian Fit Pals, a new program offered by Alexian Brothers Health System in Arlington Heights, Ill., 200 children and teens with a predisposition toward diabetes will receive a free smartphone and data plan.

CHA and UCLA launch innovation challenge

CHA is joining with the Global Lab for Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, and its partner, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, to conduct a population health innovation challenge among CHA member organizations.

The challenge will collect and profile high-value innovations that can help CHA members and other health care organizations accelerate the transformation of health care.

Dr. Molly Coye, who heads the Global Lab, said, "We know that many Catholic health care organizations are leaders in innovation, and we're eager to learn about the successes they've had." Coye, UCLA's chief innovation officer, is the former chief executive of HealthTech, a technology forecasting organization supported by many CHA member systems.

Innovations can be submitted beginning March 2 and continuing until April 6. A committee of innovation leaders from CHA member organizations and the Global Lab for Health and UCLA faculty will review the submissions and select examples of the most high-impact innovations to profile during a general session at the Catholic Health Assembly, June 7-9, in Washington, D.C.

Byock leads Providence institute to improve end-of-life care


Palliative care expert Dr. Ira Byock knows the challenges physicians face: the urgent cases, the complexity of patient needs, the time pressures. He knows terminally ill patients and their families struggle with end-of-life issues: the physical decline, the difficult conversations and decisions that many don't prepare for in advance.

To provide resources, training and support to help clinicians have more meaningful conversations with patients and their families about their preferences for care through the end of life, he started last summer as the founding executive director and chief medical officer of Providence Health & Services' Institute for Human Caring, based at Providence TrinityCare Hospice in Torrance, Calif. The institute serves the five-state Providence Health & Services, with 35 hospitals and ancillary facilities in California, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Montana.

Byock previously directed palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and chaired the department of palliative medicine at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine in New Hampshire. He is the author of Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life and The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life.

"With the Affordable Care Act, our nation took a giant step forward," Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA's president and chief executive officer, said at a Capitol Hill press conference on Jan. 28. "And now if this case is decided wrongly, we’ll take a giant step back. It is profoundly disruptive when people who have health care coverage lose it."


MissionPoint uses population health management to better patient outcomes


On a day-to-day basis, population health company MissionPoint Health Partners processes and analyzes reams of patient data to determine how to help people access the health care system more effectively.

It was during one such data study that analysts realized that dozens of children insured by one MissionPoint client were filling their asthma prescriptions but were still showing up in emergency departments on a regular basis for relief from asthma complications. 

Harmonica therapy lets Good Samaritan patients breathe easier


Pulmonary rehabilitation patients at Lafayette, Colo.-based Good Samaritan Medical Center are making music together as they exercise their breathing muscles and improve their lung function. Patients report that harmonica playing exercises added to breathing therapy group sessions in November are proving to be a high note in their ongoing battles to breathe easier.


Keeping Up


Deborah Proctor is retiring as president and chief executive of St. Joseph Health in Irvine, Calif., effective Dec. 31.

Jesse Jantzen to president and chief executive of Ascension Health Senior Care of St. Louis, from president and chief executive of Elder Care Alliance in Alameda, Calif.

Rodney D. Reider to president and chief executive of Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho, from interim president and chief executive of the system.

Jerry Wordekemper to president and chief executive of Franciscan Care Services of West Point, Neb., from chief operating officer. Wordekemper replaces Ron Briggs, who is retiring.


The People Catchers Club


Almost everyone who fishes has a story about that one big fish that got away. Two Ministry Health Care hospitals in northern Wisconsin have put their own cast on fishing lore with trophy cases of fishing lures that landed anglers in the hospitals' emergency rooms.

In a region known for an abundance of lakes, rivers and streams, staff in the emergency departments at Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff and Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital in Eagle River are accustomed to removing fishing lure hooks from patients.


CHRISTUS Health restructures units, makes leadership changes

CHRISTUS Health of Irving, Texas, has reduced the count of its domestic operating units from eight to three and has named the executives heading each unit.

System leadership said in a press release that the changes will streamline and simplify CHRISTUS' structure and will allow CHRISTUS more agility and speed in decision making.

One of the three operational groups will include CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System of San Antonio and CHRISTUS Spohn Health System of Corpus Christi, Texas. Patrick Carrier, who was chief executive of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa, now will lead this operational unit as CHRISTUS senior vice president, group operations.

Jewish Hospital receives $16 million for emergency department, medical education

Cincinnati's Jewish Hospital will use a $16 million donation from the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati to help expand its emergency department and to enhance its graduate medical education program. The Jewish Foundation owned the 209-bed teaching hospital until the Mercy Health system of Cincinnati purchased the facility in 2010.

Jewish Hospital will put $10 million of the donation toward an emergency department expansion now underway on the campus. That expansion is part of a broader $80 million renovation slated for completion in 2016. The construction helps fulfill a commitment Mercy made at the time of the hospital purchase, to improve the facility.

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