Recognized for Quality and Value

January 2005

As the Union Hospital approaches its centennial year, tribute will be paid to the medical pioneers of the past century who worked to build this community hospital.  But while the past offers nostalgic memories of people and events, Union Hospital is focused on the important issues of its second century.   Those issues center on improving patient outcomes, patient safety, and overall quality of care,


?Buildings are built, technology is acquired, and physicians are recruited for one reason,? according to William Harding, president and CEO, ?and that is to enable Union Hospital to do a better job caring for patients.?


?Rather than focus on brick and mortar projects or a high-tech piece of new equipment, it?s more important that we see a bigger picture and understand how it all works to the advantage of our patients,? Harding says.


That bigger picture includes the hospital?s employees, medical staff, management, and governance, each of whom, Harding says, has a role to play in improving the quality of care the hospital offers its patients. 


Achieving high ratings for vascular and colon surgery requires

a skilled staff of physicians and nurses.  Representing the Union

Hospital surgical team are (left to right), Wayne Haines, operating

room technician/first assistant, Debbie Smith, RN, director of

perioperative services, Millie Lester, RN, specialty resource nurse,

Jeffrey Prem, MD, chairman of the department of surgery,

and Chris Prok, nurse anesthetist.  They are surrounded by some

of the hospital?s newest equipment for minimally invasive surgery and anesthesia.


Dr. Tom Kelly, vice president for medical affairs, says, ?Hospitals should not be judged not only by their performance claims but also by realistic measures of the things that affect people, their health and their lives?.  Dr. Kelly says one such measure is provided by the Community Healthcare Coalition based in North Canton.  It recently evaluated a variety of services provided by hospitals in northeast Ohio and gave those services ratings of one to five stars.  The coalition is made up of local employers seeking the best value for their healthcare dollar.


?Union Hospital was among the top hospitals in several key areas of patient care, including five-star ratings for our care of pneumonia patients and our vascular surgery service.  The hospital earned a four-star rating for both colon surgery and pulmonary care,? according to Dr. Kelly.


?Those results put our quality of care in these areas ahead of most other hospitals in northeast Ohio,? Kelly says, ?including those in Canton, Akron, and Cleveland.?  



Elizabeth Incarnato, RN (left) and William

Swoger, D.O., (right) inspect the two new

ICU rooms, expanding the unit to 10 private

ICU rooms.


Harding says these high ratings for quality of care were made possible by making major investments in new facilities, technology, and the addition of new physician specialists and skilled hospital staff.  ?The payoff to the community for this investment is quality of care that compares favorably to any in northeast Ohio.?


James Knisely, chairman of the hospital?s Board of Trustees, says the hospital will continue to make significant investments that will pay dividends through improved quality and better patient outcomes.


 ?We?re very proud of the hospital?s achievements which show that many of our important services compare to the best that northeast Ohio has to offer,? Knisely says.  ?We?re also proud that these achievements in quality and improving patient outcomes have been made while maintaining Union Hospital?s position as one of the lowest cost hospitals in Ohio.?


Harding says hospital costs are another element of quality.   ?Higher costs put healthcare out of the reach of more people, and that?s a quality issue.  We make a cost vs. value evaluation when making decisions to invest our limited resources in new facilities or staff.?


The cost vs. value decision has resulted in some notable examples of how the hospital?s quality has risen to equal and even surpass that of other hospitals in the region.  Dr. Jeffrey Prem is a general and vascular surgeon and serves as the Chief of the Department of Surgery.  He says that achieving a five-star rating for vascular surgery and a four-star rating for colon surgery is the result of investments in diagnostic equipment, surgical facilities, hospital staff, training, and recruitment of physicians.


?The growth we?ve seen in vascular surgery and other surgical services at Union Hospital is the result of a tremendous investment in staff, training, and facilities, Prem says.  ?Both Dr. Randall Franz and myself feel confident our fellowship training has enabled us to offer a variety of advanced surgical procedures to our community.?   


Both Dr. Prem and Dr. Franz are certified by the American Boards of General Surgery and Vascular Surgery.  


Similar feelings are expressed by two of the newest members of the hospital?s medical staff.  Dr. David Hartman is an ear, nose, and throat surgeon and allergy specialist.  He opened his practice in Dover last July.  ?I chose this community and hospital to establish my practice because of their commitment to providing the quality surgical facilities I want for my patients,? Hartman says.


Dr. Michael Gigax became the area?s first full-time urologist when he opened his practice in Dover in August.  ?Union Hospital was willing to acquire the specialized surgical equipment I needed to care for my patients and is now very well equipped,? Gigax says. 


Patient safety is among the hospital?s most important quality standards.  Dr. Charles Barrett, chief of anesthesiology, says Union Hospital surgical anesthesia technology is among the best.


?Surgical anesthesia is all about keeping the patient safe during the procedure.  The equipment we use in Union Hospital?s operating rooms is some of the best available in any hospital,? Barrett says.


In the future, Harding says more and more measures of hospital quality will be available and patients will become consumers, able to compare patient outcomes and make an informed decision when they choose a hospital.  ?Now and in the future, claims of quality will have to be supported by evidence.  I?m pleased that the evidence is showing that important patient care services at Union Hospital meets or beats the best that northeast Ohio has to offer.?



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