Griffin Hospital marked its 20th year as a Planetree hospital in 2012, which was a year filled with accomplishments, challenges, and change. Perhaps most notably, the hospital implemented several initiatives to prepare for the new era of healthcare driven by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
These efforts were taken proactively to respond to changes in the way that hospitals will have to operate in the future and to sustain Griffin Hospital’s status as an industry leader in providing high-quality care and an unparalleled patient experience in the rapidly evolving healthcare environment.
Griffin Hospital’s leadership among its peers was further validated in 2012 when the hospital’s quality of care was recognized by organizations as diverse as CareChex, which ranked Griffin Hospital #1 in Connecticut for Overall Medical Care and Major Neuro-Surgery, and the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons, which awarded the hospital’s Center for Cancer Care with its second consecutive three-year accreditation. The hospital was awarded the “Get With The Guidelines® - Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award” by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations for ensuring stroke patients receive treatment according to national standards.
In addition, Griffin Hospital earned Baby-Friendly® Designation from the World Health Organization and UNICEF for its Childbirth Center in recognition of its optimal level of care for infant feeding, and STAR Program® Certification for the Rehabilitation Services team at The Center for Cancer Care in recognition of the Center’s capability to offer premium oncology rehabilitation services to cancer survivors. In only its second year of existence, the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital achieved “Breast Imaging Center of Excellence” designation and American College of Radiology accreditation for mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound (including ultrasound-guided breast biopsy) and breast MRI.
The Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness also introduced Tomosynthesis 3D Mammography, the most advanced digital mammography system available, which increases the detection of invasive cancers by 40% and decreases false positives by 15%, continuing the hospital’s efforts to invest in state-of-the-art technology to improve patient outcomes. The operating room acquired the O-arm® Surgical Imaging System, which enables surgeons to perform less invasive spine, orthopaedic, and trauma-related surgeries procedures and confirm the precision of advanced surgical procedures before the patient leaves the operating room, and the Childbirth Center introduced the PeriCALM system, which improves the safety of labor and delivery by analyzing fetal heart rate, contractions and labor progress for potential birthing problems.
This commitment to seeking accreditation and ensuring that its clinicians have access to the latest clinical tools to provide care is part of Griffin Hospital’s overall commitment to patient safety and quality. This was reflected with the hospital’s state leading performance in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Quality Core Measures scores, as well as its top five ranking in Connecticut in terms of aggregate patient satisfaction.
To meet the needs of the community it serves, Griffin Hospital continually looks for ways to expand and strengthen its medical services and keep the hospital competitive in the healthcare marketplace. The hospital added several new physicians to its staff in 2012, including: Kenneth Johnson, MD, Perioperative Anesthesia; Laura Sheiman, MD, Diagnostic Radiology; James Hansen, MD, Radiation Oncology; Jeffrey Klauser, MD, Orthopedic Surgery; Denise Barajas, MD, Breast Surgery and Medical Director of the Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness; Shilpa Shetty, MD, Primary Care, Derby; and Richard N. Biondi, MD, Primary Care, Southbury. In addition, new physicians and services introduced in 2011 enabled Griffin Faculty Physicians to strengthen its presence and service to the community. Primary Care Physician, Dr. Shyla Muriel, and the staff at Internal Medicine of Seymour celebrated the office’s growth to more than 1,000 patients in just over a year since opening, and Podiatrist, Dr. Luke Jeffries, was largely responsible for a 135% increase in podiatric surgery cases in 2012, a strong indication of the credibility he quickly established with medical and podiatric colleagues and the satisfaction of patients who have benefited from his care.
Other growth areas included the Emergency Department, mammography and ultrasound services, which increased significantly. Meanwhile, inpatient admissions declined somewhat, reflecting the continuing trend of declining admissions resulting from increased use of up to 23-hour observation stays as an alternative to admission and the ability to do more procedures on an outpatient basis as technology and practice standards evolve.
To better match its resources to fluctuations in patient demand and volume for services, Griffin Hospital engaged the Huron Group, a healthcare consulting practice specializing in helping hospitals achieve improved efficiency through process improvement and resource utilization. As a result, Griffin Hospital achieved more than $8 million in combined revenue enhancements and cost savings, the result of matching its staffing resources to fluctuating patient volumes in real time, streamlining clinical processes, and increasing operational efficiency in both clinical and non-clinical areas.
This effort, coupled with ongoing efforts to identify new services to meet community needs and provide new sources of operating revenue, are key to the hospital’s future. One example is the growth of the School of Allied Health Careers, which has graduated nearly 300 students combined from its Phlebotomy, Patient Care Technician, and Certified Nursing Assistant programs since its founding. The students have gone on to fill critical need positions at the hospital and other healthcare settings, and the school has made a positive financial contribution.
Other key contributors to Griffin Hospital’s financial stability include the achievement of electronic health record “Meaningful Use” standards, which resulted in more than $1.7 million in government payments in 2012, the successful negotiation of a new three-year contract with UnitedHealthcare, and achievement of several pay-for-performance benchmarks that resulted in increased reimbursement. Now the hospital is continuing its intense focus on helping patients achieve optimum health and avoiding preventable readmissions to the hospital. By introducing innovative new patient education and empowerment tools and resources as part of an expanded continuum of care -- from pre-admission throughout the hospital stay, to discharge and continuing support in either the patient’s own home or other care settings – Griffin Hospital is positioning itself to better serve the needs of its patients and align with value-based care criteria.
Planetree, which is part of Griffin Health Services Corporation, is leading the way in the national movement for more patient-centered care, driving improved outcomes, efficiency, and operating performance with new services and expertise. As one of 35 Planetree-designated patient-centered sites, Griffin Hospital has the even greater distinction of being one of only four facilities to be recognized with distinction for its leadership and innovation in applying the Planetree philosophy of care. This “flagship” status speaks to Griffin Hospital’s continued dedication to moving Planetree forward in all areas of the organization, applying patient-centered principles and best practices for quality and safety to create the kind of care environment our patients deserve and have come to expect.
While by no means all-inclusive, this summary of 2012 accomplishments provides a representative snapshot of what took place during what was a very eventful year. As a result, the collective efforts of the Griffin Health Services family have the hospital well-positioned for both the known and unforeseen challenges of the future. That we were able to once again achieve so much was due to a tremendous group effort and countless individual contributions by hospital staff, physicians, volunteers, and board leadership, for which I am extremely grateful.