Archive for July, 2011

MCDH “Star” Card Employee of the Month
—Posted Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 7:57 pm— « »

Rick ChiltonMeet Rick Chilton, MCDH “Star” Card Employee of the Month for June 2011.  The “Star” Card program at Mendocino Coast District Hospital allows patients, guests, visitor, physicians, volunteers and employees to nominate MCDH employees who exemplify the spirit of compassionate care and customer service.  Rick is a very good example of such an employee.  In recent months he has received “Star” card recognition for going the extra step for our patients and visitors.  One patient said that when dealing with Rick, “I felt like I was dealing with a ‘healing hospital.'”  Another patient said that Rick assembled a medical record request in less than 24 hours and that “he is a real pro!”  Congratulations Rick.  This honor is very well deserved.

The Technology Age is Here
—Posted Sunday, July 24th, 2011 at 11:38 pm— « »

logo 2

Last week I had the privilege of attending the InTouch Health Company’s 6th Annual Remote Presence Clinical Innovations Forum in Santa Barbara, California.   In the 6th year of its existence, this was the largest gathering yet of institutions, educators, clinicians and administrators who come together each year to learn about the latest in technological advancement from one of our Nation’s  Clinical Technology leaders.   

InTouch Health’s signature product is the RP7 “robot.”   Just like the one that we have named “Dr. Don,” that we see roaming our halls.  I saw that the same robot that we use to bring specialists to Mendocino Coast District Hospital is used in hospitals from coast to coast in some of our Nation’s finest Academic Teaching Hospitals, as well as small rural hospitals like MCDH.   I also learned that the RP7 robot can be used to enhance advanced surgical techniques in hospital surgical suites, as well as in the Emergency Department of major trauma centers.  I attended the conference because I was invited to participate in a Focus Group Session for the use of telemedicine in rural settings.   As is usually the case, I am certain that I learned more and I am bringing home more valuable knowledge than I was able to contribute.    Johnathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, one of many prestigious presenters, said it best when he said “2011 is the most exciting year in telemedicine innovation and acceptance, that we have seen in the past 18 years.”  And its very satisfying to know that Mendocino Coast District Hospital is one of the hospitals that is leading the way.

Medicare and Medicaid Funding for Hospitals Jeopardized in Federal Debt Ceiling Debate
—Posted Thursday, July 14th, 2011 at 8:09 pm— « »

Gina and Shelly

MCDH Nurses Jeanna and Shelley

You may be wondering if the struggle that is currently going on in Washington, D.C. over the decreasing the Nation’s debt will have an effect on health care in our local area.  We are all watching as both sides of Congress appear to agree that taking action to raise the Federal Debt Ceiling before the August 2 deadline is imperative.  We have been told that failure to raise the Debt Ceiling would push the U.S. into default on it’s existing financial obligations, which according to experts would have a catastrophic effect on our economy.  The answer to the question, “will the Debt Ceiling struggle affect us locally?”  is probably yes, given the fact that Medicare and Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California) comprise 20% of all Federal spending.

Earlier this week a list of 27 specific health care cuts were released by a “Deficit Reduction Group” led by Vice President Joe Biden.  On the list is $14 billion in savings (over 10 years) for “Reform Rural Hospital Programs (Medicare).”  Very few people outside of the Deficit Reduction Group know for sure what is included in that $14 billion cut.  (more…)

JAMA Article on Quality of Care in Critical Access Hospitals
—Posted Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 at 5:48 pm— « »

MCDH Front Entrance

Tomorrow a Nationally respected Medical Journal (the Journal of the American Medical Association) is issuing a report on “Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes in Critical Access Hospitals.”  The report uses a scientific approach to determining if there is a difference between critical access hospitals (CAHs, such as Mendocino Coast District Hospital) and non-Critical Access Hospitals when it comes to quality.  The report provides evidence that when looking at Nationally recognized hospital quality data, that critical access hospitals consistently come in with lower quality scores than non-critical access hospitals.   I have 2 reactions to the report.  First, I think that the report misses the boat by not recognizing that there are some fundamental differences between CAH hospitals and non-CAH hospitals.  The most major difference is that the CAHs exist in smaller rural markets with much less availability of physicians, specialist physicians and advanced clinical capabilities (such as cardiac catheterization labs).  Also, critical access hospitals are focused on keeping only those patients that can be treated safely in a smaller hospitals and transfering the more acutely ill patients to larger hospitals.  In the JAMA study, patients that were transfered to a larger hospital were excluded from some of the analysis.  So my first reaction is that quality in critical access hospitals needs to be measured differently than quality in urban hospitals.  My second reaction is that our hospital, Mendocino Coast District Hospital, compares very well to the National database that the JAMA article uses.   The data that they are using is available to anybody with a computer and internet access.  It’s available on a website called “Hospital Compare” on the Medicare site,   We have an ICU here, which is a big advantage for a critical access hospital (only 30% of them do, according to the report).  And in the areas of “processes of care” and “clinical outcomes” we compare pretty well.  In those 2 areas on the Medicare Hospital Compare website, we report and we consistently show as being comparable to larger hospitals.  The one caveat that I would point out is that, due to our low numbers, many of our scores have a footnote number 1.  Footnote number 1 says “the number of cases is too small to be sure how well a hospital is performing.”  So, in other words, even though the report says that our numbers are good, it is also saying that small numbers are unreliable.

My conclusions from reading the JAMA article are that (1) there needs to be more study on what constitutes high quality in critical access hospitals and (2) Mendocino Coast District Hospital is doing all of the right things to ensure that we are providing a high quality of care here on the Mendocino Coast.

CEO Day in Surgery
—Posted Friday, July 1st, 2011 at 7:22 pm— « »

Mark and Jack

Mark Scheffer and Dr. Jack Bellah

I love my job as CEO at Mendocino Coast District Hospital.  I have the honor and privilege of working with a dedicated team of health care professionals and support staff that are providing high quality medical care to our community.  Each month I take time to get out of my comfort zone of business meetings, telephone calls and paperwork to spend time working with our front line staff.  In fact I made that comment earlier today and one of our floor nurses, Amy, said “We’re like the Marines!”  I have to agree.  Our front line staff are like Marines.  No matter what, they get the job done.  On Wednesday of this week, I spent an entire day in our Surgery Department.  This was my first time visiting our Surgery Department as an employee (I have been back there twice as a patient!).  I had always heard from our patients of the skilled work that is being done “behind the closed double doors.”  (more…)