A Decade of Progress
During 1989, we at Lexington Memorial Hospital celebrated a tenth anniversary at our present location on Old Salisbury Road. Over the past decade, we’ve seen medicine and, in particular, community health care, undergo many changes.
Advances in treatment and technology have been rapid and, in some areas, radical. At the same time, rising costs and changing legislation have tightened the financial squeeze on community hospitals to an unprecedented degree. Shortages of qualified doctors, nurses and other allied health care professionals have plagued our industry.
Through it all, Lexington Memorial Hospital has maintained a progressive, personal approach to health care.
We’ve kept our facilities and technology thoroughly up-to-date. Our people have continued to blend high levels of professional competence with human compassion. Through careful management of resources, we’ve kept our charges among the lowest in North Carolina.
As we consider our ten years of progress just past and plan for continuing progress in the 1990s and beyond, we invite you to join us in reviewing our most recent accomplishments.
We thank you for your interest and support.
John H. Frank, FACHE
Lexington Memorial Hospital, Inc.
Parents Seek Home-Like Atmosphere
Lexington Memorial Hospital has nearly completed remodeling the Obstetrics Department’s labor and delivery suite to create four new combined labor, delivery and recovery (LDR) rooms, featuring such amenities as carpeted floors, decorator colors and oak furniture. The hospital has also redecorated patients’ postpartum rooms to provide a more attractive, home-like atmosphere for parents and their newborns.
“Traditionally, new mothers have labored in one room, moved to the delivery room to have the baby, moved to the recovery room immediately after giving birth and, finally, to a postpartum room to stay a couple days before going home,” said Sandra Allen, vice president of nursing practice.
“With the combined labor-delivery-recovery rooms, we eliminate much of the confusion of moving from room to room and that, along with the more attractive surroundings and greater privacy, improve the quality of the birthing experience.”
According to Rebecca B. Daley, director of nursing practice for the Obstetrics Department, the decision to create combined labor, delivery and recovery rooms was based on marketing research conducted last summer by the hospital.
“We’ve always been family-oriented,” said Mrs. Daley. “Now, with the renovations, we’ve created an environment to match.”
New Doctors Fill Community Need
Since John Frank became president of Lexington Memorial Hospital in 1987, recruiting new doctors to practice in the community has been his single most important goal.
“It’s taken a great deal of my time during the past year,” said Frank of his efforts to entice outstanding doctors to join the hospital’s medical staff. Frank said the hospital has taken the doctor-recruiting initiative because most of the community’s doctors want to maintain solo practices and don’t recruit on their own.
“It is unusual for a hospital to recruit this actively,” said Frank. “Usually, the physicians in a community will recruit others for their own group practices. But in Lexington, so many of our doctors want to stay in solo practice. As long as they can get in a good call group and cover for each other, most of them prefer to be independent.”
One of Lexington’s biggest attractions for new doctors is the two-level, 10,433-square-foot medical office building completed in the hospital’s Medical Park in July 1989.
Newly-recruited doctors have already bought or leased five of the six office suites. A urologist will occupy the sixth suite.
“Without a doubt, the new building has been a key factor in attracting the new doctors who’ve opened practices here during the past year,” said John H. Frank, president of Lexington Memorial Hospital.
“The building represents a very sound investment in our community’s future.”
Foundation to Secure Future Care
Lexington Memorial Hospital has established the Lexington Memorial Hospital Foundation, Inc., to secure and administer tax-deductible charitable gifts to the hospital.
“Our hospital is fortunate to enjoy sound financial health at a time when many community hospitals are struggling for survival,” said John H. Frank, president of Lexington Memorial Hospital and the foundation.
“But we want to do more than just survive. By seeking additional support through the foundation, we can greatly enhance the care we provide while continuing to keep our charges the lowest in the area and among the lowest in the state and nation.”
The hospital began work on establishing the foundation last April and appointed a Board of Directors, chaired by C.H. “Tim” Timberlake, Jr., in August. Other officers are Vice- Chairman Robert L. Grubb, Treasurer Burr W. Sullivan, Secretary Sara Calvert and Assistant Secretary Peggy Honrine. John Frank is foundation president.
Other board members are Helen Brinkley, Bryan Brooks, Ph.D., Lee S. Dukes, Russell J. Gabrielson, John Horne, Deborah Lenahan, M.D., Gladys Leonard, Robert F. Lowe, Fred McIntyre, Robert A. Team, M.D., and J.S. Young, Jr. Anyone interested in making a contribution to the Foundation may contact Mary Wesley, Director of Development, at 246-5161 ext. 559.
Nursing, Allied Health Scholarships Help Prepare for the Future
To help fill the area’s continuing need for qualified health care professionals in the coming decades, Lexington Memorial Hospital has, since 1987, awarded 30 scholarships to students of nursing and allied health care, such as radiology and respiratory therapy. Scholarships cover the costs of tuition, books and uniforms.
Currently, the hospital is sponsoring 16 nursing students at Davidson County Community College and two radiology students at Moses Cone Hospital and Forsyth Technical College.
“We choose scholarship recipients using the same criteria we use for choosing employees,” said Personnel Director Barbara Smith. “We interview them to ascertain their career goals and try to pick people we feel will be good employees. That’s particularly important to us since part of our agreement with the student is that they work here at least two years after they finish their degrees.”
Smith said the hospital expects to employ six scholarship recipients upon graduation next Spring and to award an additional eight to ten scholarships next Fall.
Advanced Cancer Treatment
Lexington Memorial Hospital, in cooperation with Duke University Medical Center, is now offering a biweekly cancer clinic to local cancer patients.
The clinic is staffed by Peter Gerard Ellis, M.D., a senior fellow in hematology and oncology from Duke University Medical Center.
Ellis sees cancer patients in Lexington Memorial’s Outpatient Surgery and Diagnostic Center, evaluates their needs and advises them and their doctors on the most effective treatment currently available. All appointments with Ellis are arranged through referrals from other doctors.
“Dr. Ellis consults with members of our medical staff who need expert advice on cancer,” explained Sandra Allen, Lexington Memorial’s vice president of nursing practice. “We see him as a valuable resource person who’ll provide us direct access to Duke’s outstanding resources in cancer research and treatment.
“Obviously, many cancer patients don’t feel well enough to travel,” said Allen. “With the clinic, they can see a cancer specialist from Duke right here, without having to drive to Durham.”
“Dr. Ellis also conducts seminars for our medical staff from time to time to help them keep current on the latest developments in cancer research and treatment,” added hospital President John H. Frank.
After completing additional training in caring for cancer patients at Duke, one of Lexington Memorial’s registered nurses is qualified to assist physicians in providing chemotherapy and other treatment for cancer patients through the Outpatient Center.
Emergency Department Responds to Volume Increase
Beginning in August ’89, Lexington Memorial Hospital began using a triage system for admitting patients to its Emergency Department. The hospital also enlarged and modified a small waiting room between the Emergency Department lobby and the emergency entrance for use as the triage area.
With triage (pronounced “TREE-ahje”), patients who come to the Emergency Department during the busiest hours are seen immediately by a nurse who specializes in emergency care. The nurse evaluates patients and classifies their condition as urgent, non-urgent or routine. Patients who need medical attention right away are sent to the first available treatment room, while those whose conditions are less severe may be asked to wait.
Hospital President John H. Frank said, based on American Hospital Association figures, admissions through Lexington Memorial’s Emergency Department are double the national average of 12,000 to 15,000 emergency department admissions per year for hospitals of comparable size.
“Two years ago, we treated about 25,000 patients in the ED— an average of 68 a day,” said Frank. “This year, we treated 29,447, or an average of 81 patients a day. With the new triage system, we find we can manage our larger volume of patients much more efficiently and effectively.”
Working Conditions, Benefits Attract Nurses, Technicians
Although much media attention has been paid in recent months to the nationwide shortage of nurses and allied health care professionals, Lexington Memorial Hospital has had relatively few problems finding and keeping qualified personnel. According to Personnel Director Barbara Smith, Lexington Memorial’s work environment is one reason why.
“We haven’t experienced the drastic shortages here that many other hospitals have experienced,” said Smith, adding that employees particularly like Lexington Memorial’s relatively low patient-staff ratio and smaller patient load. “That means more direct contact with patients and their families.”
Smith said the hospital’s facility, size and pleasant, personalized atmosphere are additional drawing cards for employees.
“Lots of job candidates comment on how friendly our people are,” said Smith. “We’re attractive to people who enjoy getting to know their co-workers and patients.”
Spreading the Word
Lexington Memorial Hospital has organized a speakers’ bureau of doctors and hospital employees to help area civic, professional and church groups find qualified speakers on health care topics.
The bureau’s services will also be available to area employers who want to offer health-related programs to employees.
According to Mary Wesley, director of development and community relations for the hospital, about half the hospital’s doctors have agreed to participate in the bureau, along with the hospital’s key medical and administrative staff employees.
“We have a good cross-section of speakers with expertise in the various medical specialties,” said Mrs. Wesley. “We also have staff people who can talk about more general health care issues.”
Speakers’ topics include:
- Choosing over-the-counter medicine
- Facts and fallacies about cholesterol
- AIDS awareness
- Controlling health care costs
- The shortage of health care professionals
- Health care administration and finance
- Emergency health care
- Health care quality assurance
- Personnel and labor relations
- Health and nutrition
- Sports medicine
- Arthroscopic surgery
- Total joint replacement
- Laser surgery in ophthalmology
- Health care for the elderly
- High-risk pregnancy
- Treating infertility
Durable Medical Equipment Now Available
Medical Park Pharmacy on Old Salisbury Road across from the hospital is now serving as the Lexington branch of Home Care of Western Carolina, Inc., a supplier of medical equipment, health care products and clinical service for patients being cared for at home.
“Because of its connection with the hospital, Medical Park Pharmacy has always emphasized medically-oriented products,” said John H. Frank, president of Lexington Memorial Hospital, Inc., and LexCare, Inc., which has operated the pharmacy since 1986.
“Now, with this agreement, we’ve expanded the pharmacy’s product line to include virtually any type of medical equipment or supply you’d need to care for a patient at home, along with expert back-up by qualified health care professionals.”
In addition to offering such equipment as hospital beds, bathroom accessories, respiratory equipment, wheelchairs, crutches, canes and walkers for sale or rent, Home Care of Western Carolina carries a complete selection of specialized health care supplies.
Equipment delivery and pick-up are included at no additional charge, along with training by the company’s field personnel on how to use the product. Home Care has a dietitian and respiratory therapists who provide in-home services for patients. Also as part of its service, Home Care bills costs covered by private insurance or Medicare directly.
“If we don’t have the item in stock, Home Care can usually deliver it from their warehouse the same day,” said Jennie Koontz, pharmacist manager of Medical Park Pharmacy. “They also provide 24-hour emergency service.”
Medical Park Pharmacy is a subsidiary of Davidson Healthcare, Inc., the holding company that owns Lexington Memorial Hospital, Inc. Home Care of Western Carolina, Inc., is owned by North Carolina Baptist Hospital.
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