Hospital expansion, new technology highlights 2013 plans

In what was essentially a “State of the Hospital” presentation, Lee Kirk last week told members of the media that Culpeper Regional Hospital is finding new ways to fulfill its mission.
Kirk, president and CEO of the hospital, touched on a wide range of topics from expansion to new staff members and new technology during a media luncheon at the Beck House on Sunset Lane.

“Our main objective is to provide the highest quality safe care to our patients and to do it in a way that’s a positive experience,” he said. “We’re not totally there yet but we’re moving down that road.”

Kirk said a planned $17 million expansion of the emergency department is on track. The expansion will increase the size of the department from 5,800 square feet to 14,200 square feet. There will be six new ER rooms added to the current 13.

There were 31,000-plus visits to the ER last year, Kirk said, with the average wait time of 2.6 hours. Nationally, the average wait time is four-plus hours, he said.

The first phase of the ED upgrade was completed last year and was primarily cosmetic. The next phase will eliminate some parking and move the helipad toward Laurel Street, but Kirk said the hospital will also be adding 140 new parking spaces on Sunset Lane behind Farmington Elementary School.

Kirk credited the partnership with the University of Virginia into which CRH entered in 2009 with making possible many of the positive advancements now happening in Culpeper.

“The partnership gives us access to expertise, technology and capital that we wouldn’t have otherwise had,” Kirk said. “We gained $41 million to reinvest and we still have about $40 million of that. We have a very strong balance sheet because of the leadership of our board.”

Dr. Thomas Reynolds is chairman of both the hospital and health system boards. There are 13 members on the board, seven from Culpeper and six from UVa. The newest Culpeper board member is Sharon Clarke, owner of Pepperberries on East Davis Street.

CRH, now part of the Culpeper Regional Health System with UVa. has 51 percent ownership in the system.

“We didn’t sell out lock stock and barrel and have them come in and do everything,” Kirk said. “Our structure retains community engagement and involvement and I think that’s the most valuable thing we have going. We have about a $24 million capital budget as a result of our partnership.”

The regional health system services Culpeper, Madison, Orange, Rappahannock and southern Fauquier counties.

“This structure is also well-suited to the healthcare reform that is coming,” Kirk said.

Other gleanings from the luncheon:

*A grade of “A” was received from The Leapfrog Group,” an independent nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. Scores are assigned, according to a press release, “based on preventable medical errors, injuries, accidents and infections” at hospitals. According to CRH coordinator Karen Harris, “less than one-third of hospitals graded receive a score of “A.”

*Increased use of electronic physician entries to prevent errors and save money is being phased in.

*Breast surgeons from UVa. are in Culpeper two days a week to make that type of care accessible to more people.

*The hospital is using “Lifewings,” an accountability system based on one used in the airline industry, to make better use of resources and promote teamwork. Checklists help insure the proper surgery is being done on the right patient. The last thing a doctor says to the operating team before starting surgery is “if you see anything that is not safe with this patient I want you to speak up.”

*A report from Sandy Boone, director of marketing, detailed the continued success of the Drop It program. “Usually 1,600 to 1,800 people register with about a 25 percent completion rate,” Boone said. “In the three years of the program so far, the people who participated have lost more than 10,000 pounds.”

* The hospital is replacing one CT scanner as well as adding another one at a cost of about $2.8 million. Kirk said the new scanners will be faster, have lower doses of radiation and that they are both “large bore” which will help people with claustrophobia issues, as well as larger patients.

* As a tax-exempt entity CRH looks for ways to invest in the community. Kirk said the hospital donates about $3,000 annually to each area rescue squad and also helps replenish supplies as well as offering continuing education.

* Powell Wellness Center, which celebrated its fifth anniversary last August, has about 4,500 members. A 15,000-square-foot addition is in the planning stages.

* The health system will be adding a new urologist in the spring.

* UVa. doctors routinely do residencies in the ER and the radiation/oncology center.