Despite all my years in health care, I cannot say that I’ve ever seen such a challenging period. And, the complexity that our care providers and administrators contend with in order to deliver high quality patient care and outcomes threatens to become even more so.
In 2009, each quarter brought a new mountain to scale, starting with the closing of two major hospitals mere miles from our doorstep. Immediately following those closings the H1N1 virus emerged. Being located at the epicenter of that first outbreak put a great deal of pressure on our already taxed emergency room, along with those emergency departments of other area hospitals trying to absorb an influx of patients from the now-closed hospitals.
The second half of the year was filled with economic uncertainty for funding on the state and federal levels. The end of the funding story isn’t written yet, but we are now certain that we cannot come through the state’s fiscal year without serious fiscal constriction. Although as I’m writing this, the economy appears to have a few bright spots, until we really know what we must deal with on the budget and reimbursement front, we must stay on guard.
Regardless, those of us who serve patients have to be optimists as well as realists. We cannot allow external conditions to take us too far off track or limit our drive to better serve the community.
I’m proud that we reached a number of milestones in our clinical programs and outcomes during this tough year as well, including bringing a number of new techniques, technologies and treatments to Queens so that this community has access to them -- right here.
In 2010, our plan for the hospital is realistic, and can be achieved if we stay focused and continue to have the support of elected officials, community leaders, medical staff, and the large number of people who each day choose to come here for their care. Highlights of our priorities follow, and will be further detailed in upcoming presentations and publications for our care team and community leaders:
· By mid-year we expect to open our seven-story “West Wing,” the result of a multi-year modernization program designed to help us better serve patients. The construction is on time, and on budget, which is a great accomplishment in any program of this nature, and even more so in the current environment.
· We must find ways to take pressure off of an already taxed Emergency Room and the impact of the crowding on the flow of patients onto the inpatient floors of the hospital. By the same token, we need to work more closely with our referring physicians, and our patients’ family members to create discharge process that is more timely and convenient for all involved.
· We will continue to grow our medical staff and make it as simple as possible for those physicians to work with our hospital and participate in the care of their patients, both in the hospital and in their offices. Of major importance is the development of electronic medical records compatibility with physicians’ offices to include prescribing and access to NYHQ clinical systems.
· Continuing to build on our performance measures in quality of care and outcomes is also a priority. Over the past several years, we have risen to the top percentiles nationally in a number of core measures for quality care. We need to now take this momentum and accomplishment in clinical care and use it to improve each patient’s experience by better meeting their communication and emotional needs. In 2010, ensuring the satisfaction of each patient, their family and their physician will be front and center for each of our employees.
· In terms of our clinical programs, we continue to invest in building the specialty services and procedures. We know that primary care physicians and internists (and their patients) count upon us for access to high quality programs including cardiology, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, vascular surgery, GI, as well as the continuum of women’s health services, and a full spectrum of cancer diagnostics and treatment.
Our team is ready to tackle 2010 head on, and our growth, optimism, and drive continues to attract like-minded professionals who share our mission.
Stephen S. Mills, F.A.C.H.E.