"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: A Year In Review

All that I can say is WOW, what a year!  Throughout our 19-year history, WMHS has had so many successes from our very tumultuous beginning and then evolving to our current state of success to the acquisition of Frostburg Hospital 20 years ago and creating what is now Frostburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to building a new hospital and opening it in 2009 to our value-based care delivery model, which is now in its sixth year while the rest of the hospitals outside of Maryland begin to introduce a similar delivery model.  

For 2015, we have continued as the region's largest employer, we still have an economic impact on the region of over $350 million annually, we provide tens of millions in community benefit each year and we have demonstrated solid financial performance over the last three fiscal years.  

What has been significantly different about 2015 has been the amount of recognition that we have received for our quality and patient safety at WMHS.  We were recognized as best in Maryland in the Quality Reimbursement Program and as a top performer in hand hygiene.  We received awards from the Maryland Patient Safety Center for Distinguished Achievement in Patient Safety, the National Cardiovascular Data Registry for performance measure scores in acute myocardial patients, recognized by Healthgrades in five categories including Excellence Awards in Patient Safety and Cardiac Surgery, ranked by US News and World Report as 11th out of Maryland's 46 hospitals and first in Western Maryland and honored by the March of Dimes, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Patient Safety Center for improving the quality of care provided to mothers and babies.  

In late 2014, we also received recognition through the Total Patient Revenue Collaborative by the American Hospital Association through the awarding of their Living the Vision Award.  For the first time in our almost two decade history, we were also recognized by AHA as one of the country's Most Wired Hospitals.

For 2016, we are finalists for two nationally recognized quality awards, but since we are still in a communication blackout period, I am not permitted to disclose the awards.  These achievements and recognition haven't come easily as we have spent years preparing the organization for success.  We are so fortunate to have so many dedicated individuals who are committed to being the best at what they do.  

As I have blogged previously, we are not perfect and we do make mistakes.  Our goal is to learn from these mistakes and bring improvement to our programs and services.  If 2015 is any indication, we have made significant inroads in bringing improvement to the care that we deliver system wide.  Have a Blessed New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Thinking Out of the Box

On December 24th, Fierce Healthcare published a blog that they asked me to write related to the impact WMHS is having on our community.  The blog was limited in the number of words so my examples were limited in demonstrating how we are impacting the community through our out-of-the-box thinking related to meeting the community's needs through our unique care delivery model.  

In my blog, I used examples related to Bridges to Opportunity, the Imagination Library and our community garden.  However, there are so many more examples of how we have applied that out-of-the-box thinking in addressing the social as well as health needs of our community. These include 

  • providing 30 days of free medications to patients as they are discharged
  • embedding care coordinators and navigators in clinics and practices,
  • providing free care through our Center for Clinical Resources to the sickest of the sick who are suffering from diabetes, CHF, COPD and/or hypertension
  • placing doctors and nurse practitioners to care for patients in skilled nursing homes
  • expanding primary care throughout the region
  • using Community Health Workers to visit patients in their homes to ensure that they are living in a safe environment and that their needs are being met
  • performing tele-monitoring for select patients in their homes to check their blood glucose levels, their BP, their weight, etc.
  • partnering with agencies such as Allegany Health Right on dental services
  • providing a Transition Clinic to newly discharged patients who may not be able to get a follow-up appointment to see their physician within the first week after being discharged
  • working with a host of agencies on ensuring that the transportation needs of patients getting to and from their appointments are being met
  • and the list goes on.  

This year we also fed the hungry, clothed those who have a need and partnered with others in ensuring that the homeless have a place to sleep.  As I have indicated in the blog, we have gone far beyond what the traditional hospital is expected to do for its community, but truly recognize that it is now both our responsibility and our mission.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Caring for What Matters Most

We have been running a series of commercials on what matters most to our employees and the theme has been helping others.  This year, like every previous year since my arrival in Cumberland 26 years ago, we have had a Christmas Families program.  For 2015, we provided Christmas for 63 families of which some were our own employees, some were patients at WMHS and the rest were families identified by community agencies.  Our Foundation Office estimates that we spent over $50,000 this year on toys, food, clothing and gift cards for these families and individuals in need.  

The generosity of our employees and their families, along with our medical staff and groups like the Ladies of Charity, is truly amazing.  No child should be without presents to open on Christmas morning; and through such efforts of the WMHS staff, we strive to make that goal a reality.  This year we provided, along with the area's Catholic churches and Pharmacare, over 1000 Thanksgiving meals to those in our community who may have gone without a such a meal.  

As we care for what matters most at WMHS, I am so very proud of our staff for their compassion, their dedication and their generosity in making Thanksgiving and Christmas truly a celebration for so many who may not have had that opportunity otherwise.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Citizens Against Virtually Everything / The CAVE People

The CAVE people have once again reared their ugly heads; this time it's concerning economic development………specifically, the Rolling Mill project in Cumberland.  On Tuesday, the Mayor and City Council voted to approve a $2.5 million funding package for the project which will result in the acquisition of 68 properties within the area of I-68, Maryland Avenue, Park Street and Williams Road.  
The Cumberland Economic Development Corporation has been spearheading the project and I am one of the members of this newly formed public / private entity.  At the Mayor and City Council meeting, it bought back the bad memories of the creation of the Western Maryland Health System.  Some of the same people who were involved with the “Kill the Merger” initiative are back with their protest signs and spewing insults.  
The property owners have been offered the appraised value of their property and relocation assistance.  The great majority have taken advantage of the opportunity.  There are still a handful of property owners who are not interested in selling or are holding out for the best deal; only time will tell as to how they fare in the process. 
What one can find interesting is that the majority of the protesters aren’t even residents of the Rolling Mill area.  This area has the highest incidence of crime and drug abuse in the city and the Rolling Mill project should be embraced by all.  I listened to a woman on the radio this AM with no understanding of what is happening in this community from an economic development perspective.  The radio host, who was well informed, spoke of the economic boom that is taking place in LaVale; her response was “but that’s the county, not the city.”  Well, madam, it is because of what’s happening throughout our region that there is now interest in the city.  There is one newly opened hotel in LaVale and planning is underway for three additional hotels, one in Frostburg near FSU and two in the city (one downtown and one just off of I-68 and Baltimore Avenue).  There are restaurants and retail centers that have either just opened or the planning is underway.  Buffalo Wild Wings is planning to open for March Madness and both Cracker Barrel and Sheetz will open in the spring of 2016.  New companies are finding their way to Cumberland and Frostburg, as well.  New housing starts are being pursued as well as senior residential living.  A 40,000 square foot spec building is being constructed in the Barton Business Park for future development and it too will be ready in the spring of 2016.  
I have been in Cumberland 26 years and this by far is the most activity from an economic development perspective in a very long time.  I am proud of the Mayor and City Council for their unanimous approval of this much needed project for the City of Cumberland.  These are exciting times for an area that has been economically depressed for quite sometime.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Community Benefits Report for FY 2015

Last week, the WMHS Board of Directors approved our Community Benefits Report that was then submitted to the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC).  Our total for FY’15 was $36,954,026.  That amount is slightly more than FY’14 and consistent with previous years, with the exception of FY’13 when our charity care was at its highest at over $17 million.  Subsequently, the eligibility for Medicaid has expanded over the last few years, reducing the amount of charity care that is now provided.  Although charity care has been almost cut in half from FY’13, it is still the second highest community benefit activity at WMHS.  Our highest activity is mission-driven health care services at over $22 million for the year.  

As we continue our role as the safety net for the region, our community benefit activities provide a thorough breakdown of our individual contributions to the region.  We have a great deal to be proud of as we strive to fulfil our mission of providing patient-centered care and improving the health and well-being of people in the communities we serve.  The Community Benefits Report serves as a great indicator of that success. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Celebrating 20 Years

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the 20-year anniversary celebration at our Frostburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (FNRC).  I was honored to provide remarks to the residents and their families as well as our employees and volunteers.  
Just prior to finalizing the affiliation between Memorial and Sacred Heart Hospitals to form the Western Maryland Health System, Sacred Heart acquired Frostburg Hospital with the intent of transitioning the hospital to a nursing home.  When the health system was formed, FRNC, then St. Vincent DePaul Nursing Center, became part of WMHS.  There are still a handful of staff who have been a part of nursing home since its inception, and some who were even employees of Frostburg Hospital.  We have been so blessed with the staff and leadership of the facility.  
I heard so many positive comments from our residents and their families while I was at the event.  I am both pleased and proud to be associated with such individuals.  Congratulations!

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Father’s Daughter

Pamela and I were in Charleston, SC. for Thanksgiving to spend it with both daughters and our son-in-law.  It was a wonderful time; every day was sunny and 75 degrees. We had Thanksgiving on their screened-in porch with a roaring fire in the fireplace and football on their big screen TV.  The meal was delicious and the drinks were aplenty, including the traditional Williamsburg Champagne Cocktail, a tradition in which we are in our 40th year.  
As we were leaving to return home, Pamela asked if I had seen the magazine next to our bed in the guest room.  I said that I hadn’t.  Pamela suggested that I read the article on page 22.  I wasn’t familiar with the magazine “Charlie” and learned that this particular issue, the Unity Issue,  grew out of the horrific shooting at Mother Emanuel Church this past year in downtown Charleston.  The magazine is very well done and extremely positive; it celebrates the culture of Charleston.  Charlie was published to inspire change not to entertain; it is to encourage reflection, discussion and action according to its publisher.  
When I opened the magazine to page 22, there was my daughter Jessica in their People section.  She never said a word that the article was there.  They were featuring a half dozen or so individuals who are making a difference in lives of Charlestonians.  The article on Jessica, who leads Boeing South Carolina’s Global Corporate Citizenship Program, is attached to my blog.  I continue to be amazed by Jessica’s commitment to her community.  She has been in Charleston for five years and she has truly become immersed in her community.  Jessica is involved in just about everything related to making Charleston a better place to live and work.  Last year, she received the Charleston Chamber of Commerce’s One to Watch award.  
When asked what I do in my spare time, it’s giving back to the community.  It appears that my “hobby” has transcended to my eldest and I couldn’t be more proud.  Congratulations, Jessica, not only for the recognition, but for what you have accomplished in five short years.