Heads of Health
Story by Heather Feeler | Dec 28, 2016
Photography by Keith Borgmeyer
The leaders of CRMC, JCMG, and SSM gauge the temperature of health in Jefferson City.
The start of a new year often means a new list of resolutions: staying fit and healthy, losing weight, spending more time with family and friends. While it’s no surprise getting healthy is the number one New Year’s resolution, it might amaze you how much collaboration goes into keeping an entire community healthy year after year.
City Magazine asked three local health care organizations day to share their approach to delivering health care and talk about what’s on the health care horizon. While each organization is moving forward in their own way, it’s evident that teamwork is key for all of them in providing exceptional patient care.
Community Wellness: Capital Region Medical Center
Capital Region Medical Center opened the doors on its new physician building more than a year ago, offering the community instant access to 40 physicians and specialists, plus outpatient services, all in one spot. It’s one-stop shopping in health care with patients at the heart of the design.
“The whole focus of the expansion was to provide a better outpatient experience,” says Gaspare Calvaruso, president of CRMC. “You go see your doctor, get an X-ray, go right to your next appointment, and finally get your script filled. You don’t have to drive anywhere else.”
Embedded in the hospital’s mission is a focus on community wellness. The Sam B. Cook Healthplex offers a safe place to exercise after a health issue under the watchful eye of certified staff, and it provides affordable health memberships for the public. CRMC also provides a quick care clinic inside Hy-Vee, open seven days a week, where you can easily drop in and take care of vaccinations, physicals, allergies, colds, or coughs before checking off the items on your grocery list.
CRMC has extended their wellness approach to even the youngest community members. With unhealthy food habits learned at an early age, CRMC has dedicated staff and grant funding to work with local schools to launch healthy-kid initiatives, such as vegetable gardens, brain breaks during class, and nutrition education. The goal of the program is to ultimately help reduce childhood obesity and smoking rates. It is an initiative gaining positive momentum, including a reduction in obesity numbers in some mid-Missouri communities.
“It’s exciting to see the kids’ enthusiasm! They are educating their parents on these health goals we are working on,” says Calvaruso. “We really have to reach kids to ensure we have a healthy future.”
As Calvaruso looks to the future, he notes that an aging population and a government health care plan pose some serious challenges for health care organizations, locally and across the nation. It’s a challenge CRMC continues to tackle proactively.
“We as caregivers have to find a way to deliver the triple aim — high quality of care at an affordable cost with great access for people,” says Calvaruso. “We continue to try to improve access for our patients by looking ahead to trends happening around the country, like online scheduling and virtual visits. We need to look closely at those in our community too.
Physician Led: Jefferson City Medical Group
Established in 1993 by local physicians in Jefferson City, Jefferson City Medical Group is one of the largest multi-specialty medical groups owned and operated by physicians. With 100 providers in 27 medical specialties, JCMG coordinates the health of more than 70,000 patients every year. The ability to house all those services under one roof is a big convenience for patients, but also a huge asset for the team of physicians providing their care.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to walk right down the hall and consult immediately with another physician,” says Dr. Reese Thompson, past president and CEO, board member of JCMG, and a practicing otolaryngologist. “We very strongly believe that physicians are the best positioned to make health decisions with the patient.”
One need JCMG is addressing is greater access to health care, including convenient after-work and weekend hours, through its Express Care of JCMG located inside the main JCMG building and at a new clinic on the east side of town. Express Care is a walk-in clinic to treat immediate, non-emergency health issues with no appointment and at the same cost as a doctor visit. It’s been such a successful offering that the east side location will soon be expanding its hours and providing X-ray services onsite.
“With people’s busy schedules these days and wanting to miss minimal work, we want to provide care for minor health care issues and disrupt their schedules as little as possible,” says Ben Vallier, chief operating officer for JCMG. “Express Care is a cost-effective alternative to urgent care, offering the same co-pay as a physician office visit.”
JCMG has also been busy planning for the future with a focus on physician recruitment. JCMG physicians have completed studies and trained at some of the best health care institutions in the country, including Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Cleveland Clinic, Harvard, and Yale, so recruiting new physicians of the same caliber is a top priority. The JCMG physician team recently added Dr. Blake Brooks, who will provide care for patients with kidney issues.
Just as hospitals have had to adapt to the ever-changing health care climate, JCMG physicians have also faced similar changes, since physicians and hospitals often work together caring for patients. Many of the changes have had a positive impact, such as the emergence of hospitalists, physicians whose primary job is to care for patients while in the hospital, allowing JCMG primary care physicians to spend more time treating patients in the office.
“With the emergence of hospitalists, this has allowed JCMG physicians to expand clinic hours and see more patients,” notes Vallier. “Additionally, we’ve implemented a patient care liaison with a dedicated phone line to assist patients in finding the right physician for their health-care needs.”
Mission Minded: SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital
SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital lives and breathes its mission: “Through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God.” The mission encompasses both the highest quality health care and a strong faith-based legacy, founded by the Catholic Sisters, to care for those with the greatest need.
When it comes to quality, SSM Health is already embracing the future of health care by becoming an early adopter of the dyad leadership model — combining the strengths of health care administration with strong physician leadership for a dual organizational structure. Dr. Michael Misko, regional president of the SSM Health organization, joined forces last August with Brent VanConia, president of St. Mary’s Hospital for the past 10 years, to lead SSM St. Mary’s. It’s all about having seamless inpatient and outpatient health care.
“SSM has invested $200 million in this community to build a state-of-the art, high-tech facility,” says VanConia. “It is our high-quality care and customer service that keeps people coming back.”
While SSM Health is constantly benchmarking with best-in-class hospitals around the country to quantify quality (and getting high quality marks along the way), the hospital has also stayed true to its faith-based mission by continuing to provide services for all, regardless of their ability to pay.
“What attracted me to SSM Health is that they are a leader in providing faith-based, high-quality health care while expanding services for all people in mid-Missouri,” says Misko.
SSM Health also continues to foster community partnerships, including the new SSM Health Children’s Experience at the Capital Mall, a 6,000-square-foot space to promote a healthy, active lifestyle and offer children a fun, safe space to enjoy for many years to come.
“The mission began over 111 years ago, and it continues today,” says VanConia. “With our ultra-modern obstetric, orthopedic, and surgical suites, we offer world-class care right here in Jefferson City.”