Op-Ed: The State of Shore Regional Health in 2018 by Ken Kozel

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Looking back at 2018, I want t to share the great progress made by UM Shore Regional Health in realizing our Mission, Creating Healthier Communities Together, and our Vision, To Be the Region’s Leader in Patient Centered Health Care.

November and December were dominated by preparations for our successfully completed week-long accreditation visit from the Joint Commission, followed by the transition to EPIC, our new electronic medical records system, linking patient care information within and outside of Shore Regional Health and the entire University of Maryland Medical System. Both of these achievements required an enormous amount of preparation and work for team members at all levels and all locations of our organization. I am particularly proud that throughout these near-simultaneous events, patient care remained our priority in every aspect of our inpatient and outpatient programs.

2018 was marked by several other important milestones:

Our Cardiac Catheterization Center exceeded our expectations in the number of life-saving emergency percutaneous coronary intervention (STEMI / PCI) procedures – when a heart attack results from a critically blocked artery and time is heart muscle. We are approaching 60 since the designation as a Cardiac Intervention Center (CIC) by MIEMSS in February, 2018. The Center’s Electrophysiology Service is effectively migrating patients from various medications taken prior to ablation and improving their quality of life.

UM SRH programs earned recognition from several prestigious accrediting and certification organizations during 2018. Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs in our three hospitals were recognized by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). At UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, the Primary Stroke Center earned re-designation from MIEMSS, and the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus and Target Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus designations. Our Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation earned re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
Expanding access to care, a challenge for rural health care organizations such as ours, has been an ongoing focus for UM Shore Regional Health. 2018 saw considerable progress in this arena, as UM Community Medical Group added 18 new providers in primary care and several specialties. In palliative care and behavioral health, barriers to care formerly posed by geographic distance and travel times have been greatly diminished by telemedicine programs launched during the past year.

The Regional Opioid Task Force, formed in 2017 by UM SRH and including representatives from law enforcement, health departments, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, accomplished its mission of creating a standard intervention for patients involved in an opioid overdose. Our four emergency departments now offer consistent interventions that include medical evaluation and stabilization, a voluntary behavioral health assessment, a standardized educational message, connection with treatment providers, and expedited referral to A.F. Whitsitt Center for continued treatment and rehabilitation.

Plans for improvements and additions to our physical facilities also moved forward during 2018. We filed a Certificate of Need (CON) application with the Maryland Health Care Commission in September for a new, six-story, 135-bed hospital to replace Shore Medical Center at Easton. Three other regulatory applications, known as Certificates of Exemption (COE), were filed in July, 2018. These detailed the proposed conversion of Shore Medical Center at Dorchester to a freestanding medical facility that will include a state of the art emergency department, observation beds, diagnostic services, primary and specialty care, outpatient services and ambulatory surgery. These applications include proposals to relocate the inpatient beds and the behavioral health inpatient unit from UM Shore Medical Center at Dorchester to the existing Easton hospital, with very minor renovations, possibly as early as spring 2021, when the freestanding medical facility campus is complete. Coming much sooner is our new Shore Medical Pavilion at Denton, slated to open in early February 2019, which will provide “close to home” care for residents of Caroline County. The new pavilion will house primary and specialty care providers, laboratory and imaging services, outpatient behavioral health and rehabilitation care, and a home health office. We look forward to a formal opening event in the spring.

The three volunteer Auxiliaries and Foundations associated with UM Shore Regional Health continue to play a key role in advancing the quality of care provided in our hospitals and our outpatient services. Auxiliary volunteers contributed more than 57,000 hours and thousands of dollars to their respective hospitals in 2018. Support from individual donors, local businesses and foundations enabled us to purchase upgraded medical equipment and life-saving technologies. We are so grateful for the support of the Auxiliaries and Foundations, and that of our UM Shore Regional Health Board members, who devote their time to our mission.

Our focus upon a service excellence culture has transformed the ways in which we provide care, how we interact with patients, family members and loved ones, and how we support each other throughout the organization. It is heartwarming to feel the positive energy, caring and compassion in our team, our physicians and advanced practice providers, and the many volunteers who support these efforts. I am grateful for the support of our communities and the dedication of UM Shore Regional Health team members – our board, our Foundations and Auxiliaries, our physicians and providers — in all locations throughout the five county region we serve. Shore Regional Health is Where the Health of the Eastern Shore Comes First and we are so proud to serve your needs.

Ken Kozel is the president and CEO of UM Shore Regional Health

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