Ask Bruce in 2018

Ask Bruce - Bruce Baldwin

Welcome to the June 2018 edition of “Ask Bruce.” This column is my continued effort to improve communication to all employees, physicians, volunteers and residents of Newberry County; the information you should know about Newberry County Memorial Hospital (NCMH) and healthcare today and tomorrow.

Since we are quickly approaching the end of our fiscal year – June 30, now is a good time to talk about what changes and improvements we have made in the last 12 months. It is also time to discuss what is planned for the upcoming 12 months.

Your first question may be:

“Has NCMH remained financially strong? Are we going to close like some others? Are we going to be sold or be “taken over” by one of our larger competitors?”

My Answer:

NCMH is very fortunate to be strong financially. NCMH is not going to close like some others. NCMH is not for sale! The Governing Board at NCMH made that very clear to me when I interviewed for the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) position roughly three and a half years ago.

In fact NCMH, will for the third straight fiscal year, have a positive operating margin and will continue to have positive cash flow. In the past 12 months, NCMH actually refinanced the seven million dollars of total debt on the hospital, reducing interest rates by an average of two percent and saving the hospital $121,500 annually in interest paid.

Your second question may be:

“I hear a lot about hospital quality scores, safety scores, and customer service scores? How did we do the past year in these areas?”

My Answer:

I am so glad you asked! You should be proud of the quality scores (Core Measures) that NCMH received in the past 12 months. In fact NCMH was just named in the top 10 percent in the nation in quality care including the Joint Replacement Excellence Award for the sixth year in a row.

As far as safety scores, we just received an “A” rating from the Leapfrog Group for the fifth time in a row. Many of our competitors received “C” and “D” ratings in regards to safety. Included in these scores are the hospital’s infection rates and I am proud to say NCMH has one of the lowest infection rates in the nation.

The good news is that NCMH has consistently been in the top 10 percent in the nation in our customer service scores. In fact, NCMH was just awarded the Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award for the third year in a row, making NCMH in the top five percent in the Nation in regards to customer satisfaction.

Third Question may be:

“What changes did we make in services in the past 12 months? What changes are we looking at for the next 12 months?”

My Answer:

There were two major areas that were affected by significant changes in the past 12 months.

First of all, in August of 2017, NCMH made a decision to hire new Emergency Department Physicians who were from the South Carolina area and who wanted to be part of our team. We have been extremely fortunate to employ/contract Drs. O’Malley, Leap, O’Meara, Mendola, Orville and as of August 1, 2018, Dr. O’Neil. These physicians have made such a difference in the satisfaction of our patients, the timeliness of patients being seen and discharged appropriately, and the quality delivered to our patients. We have also hired a new Emergency Department Nursing Director along with some very qualified nurses to join the fine nurses that already work for NCMH.

Secondly, we added two new General Surgeons to our Medical Staff since February 2017. Dr. Conrad Manayan, General Surgeon, joined NCMH in February 2017. Dr. Steve Bayuk joined NCMH in February 2018. Both are Board Certified General Surgeons who perform laparoscopic procedures when it is appropriate, which shortens your length of stay in the hospital. There is no need to travel to Columbia or Greenville for most of the General Surgery procedures that you may need. Ask your primary care physician to refer you to one of these surgeons should the situation arise.

Fourth Question may be:

“I noticed there has been a decrease in deliveries of babies in the past few years. Is NCMH committed to keep this department open?”

My Answer:

The answer is yes. Currently we have Dr. Steven Dyke, Dr. Oscar Lovelace, Dr. Chip Dixon, Dr. Spencer Lovelace, Dr. Franco Godoy and Dr. Gisella Godoy all delivering babies at NCMH. We are currently looking for a new Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) to join NCMH in this coming year. More information to follow.

Fifth Question may be:

“I also noticed that the Hospital does a lot of Orthopedic Surgery. How will the opening of Palmetto Bone and Joint’s Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) affect NCMH? What surgeries might replace any surgeries that are now performed in the ASC versus the hospital?”

My Answer:

Palmetto Bone and Joint Orthopedic Group does several types of Inpatient and Outpatient surgeries each year at NCMH. And yes, some of the outpatient surgeries currently performed at NCMH are appropriate to be performed and will be performed at the ASC. The Hospital and the Palmetto Bone and Joint Physicians have been in constant communication in continuing our strong “partnership” going forward. The addition of the office in Chapin will bring a large new patient base that historically has not come to Newberry. Also, even though the Orthopedic Surgeons intend to keep their office open in Laurens, we have seen a higher percentage of surgeries from the Lauren’s area performed at NCMH in the past 60 to 90 days. Although none of us are exactly positive on the numbers, we believe we will see a considerable increase in total joint procedures (hips and knees) in the next 12 months at NCMH.

We also expect our numbers to increase in General Surgery with our two new surgeons and a large decrease in outward migration from Newberry Residents. With the new OB/GYN, we hope to see a substantial increase in not only births, but also in GYN surgeries in the next 12 months. We also are looking to recruit or partner with a new Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon to keep these procedures at NCMH and decrease the outward migration from Newberry.

I hope this version of “Ask Bruce” helps keep you informed and answers some of your questions or concerns. I am very proud to be the CEO of Newberry County Memorial Hospital. You can be proud of the Physicians, the Governing Board, the Great Employees and Great Volunteers. If you ever need to utilize medical care you can be assured NCMH has very high quality, very high customer satisfaction, and is a safe facility with a very, very low infection rate.

Ask Bruce

Bruce Baldwin

Bruce Baldwin is the Chief Executive Officer at Newberry County Memorial Hospital. His column “Ask Bruce” appears once a month in The Newberry Observer.

Bruce Baldwin is the Chief Executive Officer at Newberry County Memorial Hospital. His column “Ask Bruce” appears once a month in The Newberry Observer.