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Local Hospitals Expand Facilities and Services
Providing State-of-the-Art Technology with Old-Fashion Compassion
Story by Danita Boonchaisri
If you're looking for the latest ways to get healthy, check out your local
hospital. The care provided by Southern Maryland's hospitals is first
rate and has just as much to do with setting broken bones and replacing
hip joints as it does with good nutrition, exercise and education.
A Regional Culture of Care
St. Mary's Hospital has the distinction of being Southern Maryland's oldest medical center. Founded in 1912 by Dr. Francis Greenwell, the guiding principles have always been the establishment of a place where people can receive quality medical care that is comfortable and caring. From its origins in a two-story house in Leonardtown, St. Mary's Hospital has evolved into an icon of exceptional patient care.
Proof of that comes by way of the recent grand opening of a pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation center named after advocate Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, wife of former ABC News "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel. The Center provides rehabilitation services to limit the effects of respiratory and heart illnesses, prevent recurrences and maximize a patient's ability to live a full life. By focusing on rebuilding strength and endurance, the rehabilitative care helps ensure that patients can return to an active lifestyle while becoming empowered managers of their own good health.
With an emergency room patient satisfaction rating in the 98th percentile, an integrated medical records system that only 1.6 percent of the nation's hospitals claim and receipt of the prestigious Delmarva Foundation Excellence Award for Quality Improvement in 2004, 2008 and 2009, St. Mary's Hospital is widely recognized as an unsurpassed hospital. But, like any good institution, the staff does not rest on their achievements. President and Chief Executive Officer Christine Wray admits that these accolades do not come easily or by chance. "It is a relentless focus on striving to do the best we can for our neighbors, families and friends," she says.
Since Calvert Memorial Hospital first opened its doors in 1919, tens of thousands of people have moved into the county it serves. A total of 179 patients were provided care in the hospital's first year but today Calvert Memorial serves more than 300 patients every day, and over the past 90 years it has grown right along with the needs of the community.
One recent addition is a new Medical Arts Center. This state-of-the-art facility houses physician offices, an outpatient imaging center and a large physical therapy center. It is also home to two new programs - the Center for Neuroscience and the Center for Breast Care. The Center for Neuroscience brings neurosurgeons from Georgetown University to care for patients with complex neurological disorders. The Center for Breast Care provides a multidisciplinary team of breast health experts including radiologists, surgeons and oncologists in one patient-centered program. Kasia Sweeney, director of public relations and marketing at Calvert Memorial, says it includes "a dedicated women's imaging suite with state-of-the art technology that offers women privacy and comfort during screening and diagnostic procedures." Care is also enhanced by a patient navigator who helps answer questions, schedule appointments and support families and patients.
Sweeney adds that within the last four years, nearly one-third of the hospital has been newly constructed or renovated: "The last expansion project, the largest in the history of Calvert Memorial Hospital, created a new emergency department, outpatient concourse, intensive care unit, laboratory and 16 new patient rooms. All the new spaces have been specially designed to promote patient healing and are equipped with the latest technology."
Change is also a constant at Charles County's hospital. In 1939, Physician's Memorial Hospital opened in response to a devastating tornado. As the hospital grew and offered more services, it became an integrated, regional health system and needed a name to represent the various services being provided. In 1998, it became "Civista," formed from the words "civic" and "vista," to reflect a mission of community service and continuing goals for the future.
At today's Civista Health in La Plata, the slogan is "Good health starts here" and there is plenty of evidence of that in the doctors, nurses and staff who volunteer their services to the community through free health screenings, support groups and educational seminars. In 2008, Civista provided more than $1.6 million in charity care and reinvested $1 million to help community members through free programs and outreach services.
But all that would not mean a thing were it not for the quality of care that is provided every day. After undergoing an expansion in 2008 that doubled its size, Civista now boasts a Center for Joint Replacement, designation as a Primary Stroke Center from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems and a new patient tower, an expanded emergency department and four new operating rooms with two minor procedure rooms.
As the newest of Southern Maryland's quartet of hospitals, the Southern Maryland Hospital Center opened its doors in 1977 to serve a rapidly growing community. Recognizing that many residents of Southern Maryland traveled into the city for advanced or specialized care, Dr. Francis P. Chiaramonte worked to create an innovative facility in Clinton with a commitment to "back to the bedside" care.
Today's Southern Maryland Hospital Center is a leader in orthopedics and maternal child health and offers the Heart and Vascular Center that provides cardiovascular healthcare services such as diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation services and ongoing support. Physicians now perform procedures like minimally invasive single incision laparoscopic surgery, radial artery catheterization and greatly enhanced diagnostic imaging procedures right here in Southern Maryland - with minimal discomfort to patients, quicker recoveries and better results.
Just as important as their world-class care, however, is the outreach and educational programs offered to encourage ongoing patient vitality and health. From a mall-walkers program to Ask-a-Doctor seminars and support groups (in weight management, Alzheimer's care, breast cancer, mental health and stroke), services are provided free with compassion and a dedication to quality.
None of Southern Maryland's hospitals would be where they are today without the strong and highly respected partnerships they have forged. Through multiple connections and cooperative relationships, these facilities have created opportunities and brought top-notch services to the heart of Southern Maryland.
Recently, St. Mary's Hospital and Civista developed new partnerships to enhance Southern Maryland's access to quality healthcare services. St. Mary's Hospital became the first local facility to merge with MedStar Health, the region's largest nonprofit healthcare system. The partnership has already helped with physician recruitment efforts, especially in disciplines experiencing shortages. In 2009, Civista partnered with the University of Maryland Medical System to expand its medical services and meet the growing demands of the community.
In a novel partnership, Civista also works with the Charles County Department of Health and Charles County Public Schools to help parents raise healthy children through the We Can!™ program. We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition) is a national program that offers families tips and fun activities to encourage healthy eating, increase physical activity and increase activity among 8-to 13- year olds.
New partnerships and alliances with major academic medical centers are bringing "the best of the best" to Calvert County as well. Top vascular surgeons from Washington Hospital Center, a nationally recognized gynecological oncologist from Mercy Medical Center and partnerships with Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University for pediatric and perinatology services are all now available locally. Calvert Memorial is also the first hospital in Maryland to offer revolutionary ICU technology through Maryland eCare so ICU patients can be monitored remotely by a team of critical care specialists who provide an extra set of eyes and an extra layer of safety.
Patients in Control
Modern hospitals are keen on preventive care, operating under the principle that if they can keep the community well by encouraging good lifestyle habits, the people coming through their doors will be better informed, active in managing their recoveries and in control of their own health decisions. Good hospitals and good healthcare providers, paired with patients who have a say in their own care, lead to impressive results. The hospitals of Southern Maryland have a vested interest in the communities they serve and caregivers work hard to ensure that the patients they see are served new-age technology with old-fashioned compassion.
And that makes healthcare in Southern Maryland very personal.
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