A Salute to Western N.C. Caregivers and Hospitals

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 9, 2016) –  Some people may dread visiting the hospital, some may take it for granted or even question the need, but when any of us require serious medical attention, we sure are happy it’s there.

Your local hospital is an unparalleled place of compassion, community, equality and care.  No judgments, care regardless of the ability to pay and a focus only on how to help you get well.  And to those of us fortunate enough to work with one, it is where we foster deep friendships, innovate with colleagues and build unbreakable bonds with patients and families.

This week marks both Hospital Week and Nurses Week, and in recognition, we should all take a moment to applaud the men and women who care tirelessly for those of us privileged to live in western North Carolina: the physicians who make live-saving decisions; the nurses who care so compassionately for patients while comforting loved ones; the researchers developing new cures; the lab technicians meticulously analyzing samples to pinpoint problems and provide direction; the educators and community workers canvasing neighborhoods and schools to promote wellness and healthy living; and the behind-the-scenes support staff who enable all of this to happen around-the-clock, every day of the year without exception.  No breaks, no holidays, always there for you.

To everyone devoted to the health of our communities, THANK YOU.

At Mission Health – the nationally recognized network that’s been part of the community since 1885, runs six hospitals in the region and has been named a Top 15 Health System in four of the past five years – we understand deeply that saying thank you is only the start.  So allow me to spotlight two initiatives designed to empower our more than 10,000 employees and improve care for our patients.

First is a change to our core mission, which has been expanded to more explicitly include caregivers.  We call it our BIG(GER) Aim: “to get each patient to their desired outcome, first without harm, also without waste and with an exceptional experience for every patient, family and team member.”  That change means a whole lot more than simply adding three words.  It means a renewed and expanded commitment from Mission Health’s board of directors and its leadership to all team members in all of our community hospitals, practices and business offices.

Doctors, nurses and other clinicians and healthcare professionals nationwide are experiencing unprecedented stress, fatigue and burnout.  Our healthcare world is changing more rapidly than at any time in history.  Reimbursement is being reduced, disease burden is rising and, at times, our support is declining.  Today, more than half of physicians nationwide describe themselves as burned out.

We know that unless caregivers are properly cared for themselves, they cannot deliver proper care in their communities.  As a result, we are investing millions of dollars to support a new program called reNEW, designed to eliminate hassles and maximize joy in our work.  Early results have been spectacular.

At the same time, and despite ongoing payment reductions from Medicare and Medicaid, we are continuing to invest heavily and proudly in our communities.  That is why we are building programs and taking steps to improve our hospitals, practices and care sites in the region through major investments in new programs, technologies, buildings and renovations.   Yes, these projects will create more comfort for our patients and their loved ones, but they will also provide more comfort for our caregivers.

Collectively, the planned expansion projects in Asheville, Highlands-Cashiers, Marion and Sylva represent the single largest investment in the history of western North Carolina – ever.  The new Hospital for Advanced Medicine in Asheville, which serves as the complex care site for all of western North Carolina, represents an investment of more than $400 million alone.

When complete, all of Mission’s state-of-the-art hospitals in our region and each of the caregivers that bring them to life will be future ready.

The benefits are many.  Recently it was reported that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.  Yet at Mission Health, we have dramatically reduced our already better-than-average death rate over the past five years.  Today, a patient entering a Mission hospital has a nearly 40 percent lower chance of dying than in a typical hospital in the state or nation.

When referencing our hospitals, I’ve always said: “I hope you don’t need us, but we’ll be there when you do.”  And that’s the great news for us all – whether you work in a hospital every day or find yourself there when you or a loved one needs life-saving care.

About the author: Ronald A. Paulus, MD, is the President and CEO of Mission Health.

About Mission Health 

Mission Health, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is the state’s sixth-largest health system and the region’s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina. Mission Health was recognized as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems from 2012-2015 by Truven Health Analytics, formerly Thomson Reuters, becoming the only health system in North Carolina to achieve this recognition. Mission Hospital has been named one of the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals by Truven Health Analytics seven times and consecutively from 2012-2015.

Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, post-acute care provider CarePartners, long-term acute care provider Asheville Specialty Hospital and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center.

Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Mission Children’s Hospital, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma and Women’s Health.

Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system’s flagship hospital and is licensed for 763 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care. It also includes Mission Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard.

With approximately 10,700 employees and 2,000 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina.

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