Op-Ed: After Yearlong Transition, St. Elizabeth Dearborn Brings Quality, Safe Care to the Community

Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 1:36 PM

By Chris Carle, CEO at St. Elizabeth Dearborn

St. Elizabeth investing millions of dollars to improve healthcare in Southeastern Indiana.

(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - The past two years presented many challenges for healthcare professionals everywhere, and particularly at St. Elizabeth Dearborn. In the middle of a pandemic, the hospital decided to go through a merger and join St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

As a member of the acquisition team, and now as chief operating officer. I’m proud of the many ways in which our teams rose to the occasion as we maneuvered through these changes and unprecedented times. For the past 18 months, we’ve been heavily investing in Dearborn’s healthcare assets to meet our community's evolving needs and support our associates.

I hope you’re noticing the difference. We’re right here in your community with the health resources and expertise your family needs.

Improving healthcare for you

We continue to make quality and safety improvements, so you have access to advanced care close to home. Although our quality improvement efforts never end, we’ve made several significant upgrades that align with our mission to bring our community the highest level of care and service.

  • Emergency Department staffing by board-certified emergency physicians, 24/7.
  • Advanced cardiac care with access to specialists at the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute.
  • Implemented all quality metrics used by St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
  • Board certified physicians and hospitalists are responsible for your inpatient care
  • Integrated nursing leadership into the St. Elizabeth Nursing Quality Improvement Teams
  • United nursing services into the St. Elizabeth shared governance system.

These changes mean that you and your family receive the right care at the right time from highly skilled advanced care practitioners, doctors and nurses with specialty training for your condition.

Here at St. Elizabeth Dearborn, we are growing and actively recruiting more Physicians and advanced providers to meet your needs, including experts in:

  • Primary care
  • Cardiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology
  • Infectious Disease
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • OB/Gyn
  • Plastic surgery
  • Urology

Equipment, facility and technology upgrades

We invested more than $5 million in total, $2.5 million on information systems technology, such as:

  • EPIC electronic health record software and MyChart so you can communicate directly with your healthcare provider.
  • A new phone system and enhanced WIFI infrastructure.
  • Kronos Timekeeping Management System
  • PeopleSoft Human Resource Applications.

We’ve also spent more than $2.5 million in our equipment, facility and technology. Those upgrades include:

- Miscellaneous updates in all departments to increase access, improve workflow and ensure the best patient experience:

  • Cardiac stress
  • EKG
  • Lab
  • Pharmacy
  • Radiology
  • Respiratory

· Negative pressure rooms throughout our inpatient suites/ICU/Emergency Department.

· New beds and sleeping surfaces to ensure patient comfort and safety.

· Respiratory ventilators to meet the growing demand created by COVID

· Ultrasound machines in the Emergency Department and ICU for timely diagnosis.

We also made improvements in our Medical Office Building, including:

  • Enlarging the Cardiology suite.
  • Expanding our existing Cancer Care Center space to accommodate more patients.
  • Upgrading our mammography equipment and adding ultrasound machines so that patients can receive both tests in the same space.

All this work is paying off. For two consecutive periods, St. Elizabeth Dearborn earned an ‘A’ in hospital safety from The Leapfrog Group. This is a national distinction for our achievements in providing safer healthcare and protecting patients from errors, infections and injuries by meeting the highest safety standards.

Supporting our associates so they can support you

Of course, we couldn’t accomplish any of this without our incredible, tenured associates. We believe in investing in our healthcare teams, too. As we merged with St. Elizabeth, we:

  • Assisted in the pension plan payouts for existing and retired associates.
  • Employed existing Highpoint Health physicians and staff, including 42 physicians and providers in 11 locations.
  • Retained approximately 600 jobs at Highpoint Health with improved benefits, such as 403b, paid time off and sick pay.
  • Developed an Outdoor Dining area for staff known as the “Dearborn Oasis.”
  • Renovated our employee entrance to improve the overall atmosphere of our facility when our team members arrive to work.
  • Re-opened our free associate onsite fitness center with new equipment.

More investments to come

As we continue to address the needs of our diverse community, we embark on our most significant investment yet.

With the recent groundbreaking of the St. Elizabeth Dearborn Cancer Center, we launched the first phase of a $270 million building campaign to construct an advanced cancer center, a medical office building and eventually, a new hospital.

It’s our goal to give you easy access to the most advanced cancer and health care in comfortable, modern facilities right here in your hometown. I look forward to making that journey with you.

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