Clean bill of health

Published 3:49 pm Sunday, September 28, 2014

PERRYTOWN – Pronouncing it as having a sound heart rate, a strong pulse, the vice-president of operations for Vidant Bertie Hospital told the Bertie County Board of Commissioners and others assembled for last week’s meeting at the Perrytown Community Building that the hospital has “passed its physical” and in pointing toward the future seems to be in good shape and good health.

Jeff Dial currently holds the VP post with Vidant and sometime in October he will transition into the dual role of president of the Windsor hospital facility and eventually Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton, taking over for Jeff Sackrison, who currently holds the dual posts, but will eventually move into a new role.

“We traditionally update our operation into five pillars,” Dial said, later explaining that those pillars are: people, service, quality/safety, finance, and growth. “We are transforming our organization so that we can continue to make use of this.”

In the People update, Dial stated that Silvia Rose will be coming over from Edenton and replacing long-time Director of Patient Care Services, and Chief Nursing Officer, 28-year veteran Pat Taylor, who is retiring; but will remain as part of Vidant Bertie’s Development Council.

Dial said they have recruited the fourth and final Board Certified Emergency Department Physician, Dr. Philip Clement, a Tarboro native and ECU Med School graduate.

“I think the retention portion is most important,” Dial emphasized, “to retain qualified positions.  He (Clement) is accustomed to rural medicine.  If you want to retain and recruit the best, sometimes it’s best if you come home and get them.”

The final additions are a new Registered Nurse (RN), Cody Bartley, joining the nursing staff; and a new Laboratory Manager.

In the Service pillar, he said the Duke Endowment and the North Carolina Hospitals Association have entered into a joint venture of scholarships for the new “lean initiative” which is aimed at eliminating waste.  The concept came from Toyota Motors to identify and push out inefficiency.

“It’s not about terminating or closing down, it’s about re-interpreting,” Dial explained. “We want to continue to develop processes.”

The grant will be used at Vidant Family Medicine-Windsor, formerly the Cashie Clinic, for access.  The facility will be a walk-in clinic from 8-to-9 a.m. and for the rest of the day will be staffed by three open access physicians.  Part of the improvement/upgrade will be a re-designing of the lobby space.

Dial began the discussion on the Quality/Safety pillar by congratulating his staff for going five years without a serious safety event (SSE), and that Vidant Bertie is shooting for five-and-a-half years of no SSE’s.

“What that means is there’s been no harm or no injury to a patient where there’s been life-threatening (circumstances),” Dial related.

The Windsor hospital has also received one of the 2014 Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Awards, given for achieving 95 percent patient satisfaction, employee engagement, and clinical quality; and planning is already underway to ensure compliance for the next Joint Commission survey sometime later this fall or winter.

“We’re proud of what we do,” he added. “I’m also proud to say in my tenure I’ve seen a total revolution, so that’s the big up-and-comer for us.”

Dial explained that in the Finance pillar there is more news nowadays on the changing of health-care systems.

“It’s not that dire,” he cautioned. “We have seen dramatic changes in our health-care system, and I think a lot of good will come out of this.”

Dial cited the use of electronic medical records, particularly with reference to the changes in Medicare and Medicaid re-imbursement.

On the subject of the hospital’s operating margin, Dial said it was at a 1.6 percent plus margin versus a budgeted loss of 4.3 percent minus margin.

“What that means to me is at this time, through August for our fiscal year running from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, we are actually at about a $300,000 profit year-to-date,” Dial said. “Assuming that we finish strong, and our volumes look great, and we want to be the provider of choice, we will finish the year in the black.  We won’t have made millions of dollars like some of the other organizations, but we’re a pro-active hospital designed to stay in business and serve our communities.”

Dial said if that holds, 2013-14 will be the ninth year in a row that Vidant Bertie has made money.

One of the biggest challenges, Dial explained, was the impact of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and its cuts over the next 10 years.

“It looks like anywhere from over a three-to-five year period, and it changes day-by-day, we will experience anywhere from a four-to-five million dollar hit off the top for Medicare,” he said.

“What we’re seeing is more of a changing from an in-patient to everyone pushing out-patient,” he continued.  “It’s a pro-active, preventive approach because we’re more in charge of our own health.”

Dial closed with the growth pillar and said there will be a new gynecology provider to start procedures in the operating room; the addition of the chapel (many funds for which came from the recent “Denim for Diamonds” fund-raising event held at the Cashie Convention Center a week ago), and the health structure realignment.

“I’m proud of my staff,” Dial concluded. “I like to brag that it’s not really me but those people that are out there at bedside who are taking care of our patients.”

Following the presentation, Commissioner Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson informed those present that the Windsor Rotary Club has four people that are receiving scholarships for those going into the medical field, and two more will be added shortly.  The caveat, he explained, being that when they finish they must work in BertieCounty.

“If you know of anyone that’s interested in the medical field, nurse, technician, whatever,” said Wesson, “contact Crystal Cobb or Lewis Hoggard (Windsor-Bertie Chamber of Commerce) about the Rick Woodard Scholarship.”