Providing the best care possible

By Dr. Burr Betts December 18, 2013 09:09 am

“World-class care, home-town touch.” Those words are not just a motto to the Board of Trustees at Grande Ronde Hospital. Instead, they have guided our decision making for the last several years, and it continues to be our goal to locally provide as many high-quality health care services as possible so patients aren’t forced to drive long distances, sometimes in bad conditions.

At the heart of this philosophy is the medical home concept, which is a model of primary care that is patient-centered, comprehensive, team-based, coordinated and focused on accessibility, safety and quality. Above all, the goal of a medical home is to provide care at the right place, at the right time and in a manner that suits the patient’s needs.

The most important component of a medical home is the relationship between the patient and a primary care provider like an internist or family practitioner and, thus, we’ve brought more of these physicians to our area.

Patients also need access to specialists. New full-time physician specialties include neurology and oncology/hematology. Several cardiologists travel to our Regional Medical Clinic monthly to evaluate new patients and provide follow-up treatments.

In addition, telemedicine allows local patients to be evaluated by remote physicians with specialties in intensive care, dermatology, cardiology, rheumatology, endocrinology, pediatric intensive care, neonatology and oncology. Often these evaluations can eliminate the need for a patient to travel to a major hospital. When a patient does have to travel for an in-person treatment at a large hospital or with a specialist, our telemedicine program may allow the patient to receive follow-up evaluations without having to travel again.

In the last five years, telemedicine consults at our hospital have saved more than $2 million in patient transfer costs, which can place a significant financial burden on patients not insured for transfer services.

The decision to build our helistop was based solely on the benefits patients would receive in the savings of time and money for transfers to a large hospital. The minutes saved by eliminating the need for a ground ambulance at either end of the transfer can be critical for heart attack and stroke patients.

Determination of the best treatment regimen by a primary care provider or specialist often requires tests with specialized equipment. Our new MRI and echocardiogram equipment are top-of-the-line and provide images equal to those anywhere in the world; these also can be transmitted immediately to specialists in remote locations without the patient having to travel. Our remodeled ultrasound rooms can now accommodate family members as well as patients and physicians. And we are now able to do computer-guided needle biopsies that enable radiologists to better evaluate potential cancers.

Chemotherapy is available in our oncology clinic, and we can evaluate sleep problems in our sleep clinic.

An exciting component of a medical home is offering patients the ability to create a personal health record. This opportunity will soon be available to our patients through the hospital’s public web site — the testing phase is already underway. With a personal health record, patients will be able to view results of most diagnostic tests, message their doctor, request appointments or prescription refills, view financial statements, or enter other health history information to create a more complete personal health record. 

Although it is not entirely clear how health care reform will affect Grande Ronde Hospital, I am confident our board will continue to make decisions in line with our goal of providing the best care possible to the members of our community.

 

My Voice

Dr. Burr Betts is a retired Eastern Oregon University professor of biology and administrator. Betts was appointed to Grande Ronde Hospital’s Board of Trustees in January 2006. My Voice columns should be 500 to 700 words. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships. 

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