Res­i­dents: Hospi­tal should stay as it is

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Com­mu­nity mem­bers at­tend­ing the lis­ten­ing ses­sion hosted by Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health at the Good­will Fire House in Cen­tre­ville on Tues­day, April 12, said they want to keep the Chestertown hospi­tal in the com­mu­nity just way it is — as a full-ser­vice hospi­tal. Six peo­ple showed up to the event.

Res­i­dents were specif­i­cally asked to voice their thoughts on sub­jects such as ac­cess to care, trans­porta­tion, tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion and screen­ings.

“As you may know our in­dus­try is chang­ing, pretty dra­mat­i­cally over the last few years, so our plan is to try and be out in front of those changes. And part of that is un­der­stand­ing what our com­mu­nity needs. We rec­og­nize that health care has two im­pacts: one on us in­di­vid­u­ally but also within the com­mu­nity that we live and serve,” Ken Kozel, CEO of Shore Re­gional Health, said. “We’re try­ing to get as much in­for­ma­tion as we can from our com­mu­ni­ties that we serve to­day — that’s five coun­ties — get­ting feed back from our com­mu­nity about some of the ser­vices we should be of­fer­ing and some of the things we should be plan­ning for our fu­ture.”

Com­mu­nity mem­bers raised is­sues with hav­ing to travel long dis­tances to re­ceive cer­tain med­i­cal ser­vices. One Chestertown res­i­dent said the Heron Point Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity, which is a few blocks away from the hospi­tal, re­ceives mul­ti­ple am­bu­lance calls a week. She said hav­ing the hospi­tal in the com­mu­nity is a mat­ter of life and death.

For an­other res­i­dent, sched­ul­ing ap­point­ments to re­ceive ser­vices in Chestertown can be dif­fi­cult as many spe­cial­ists are not based in the area. She said un­less some­one asks specif­i­cally to get ex­am­i­na­tions com­pleted in Chestertown, the per­son would be di­rected to Eas­ton be­cause that is where the sched­ul­ing and tests are mainly han­dled and com­pleted. She said some­body used to make ap­point­ments at the hospi­tal in Chestertown for Chestertown, but now peo­ple are be­ing routed else­where, which she said was a pain in the neck be­cause of the travel.

She said sched­ul­ing ap­point­ments with spe­cial­ists in Chestertown can also be hard be­cause of the limited amount of time they are in the town. Some, like an en­docri­nol­o­gist, she said, come up from Eas­ton about once a week, so even get­ting an ap­point­ment can be dif­fi­cult un­less the pa­tient wants to drive south to the spe­cial­ist for ser­vices.

“What are the chances of those we have putting in a few ex­tra days up here and those we don’t have to at­tract them?” she said. “How can we at­tract them if there’s no hospi­tal?”

An­other rea­son re­ceiv­ing ser­vices far­ther away is in­con­ve­nient, peo­ple said, is be­cause fam­ily mem­bers and loved ones would have to travel to visit, which can be a lot to ask of some­one. Though one per­son said fam­ily mem­bers would make the trip any­way, “why should they?”

Mul­ti­ple res­i­dents said more spe­cial­ists and physi­cians are needed in town, and it would be good not only for con­ve­nience but for re­plac­ing re­tir­ing or ag­ing doc­tors.

Chris­tine Clarke, di­rec­tor of or­ga­ni­za­tion and work­force de­vel­op­ment at Shore Re­gional Health, told the au­di­ence telemedicine, also known as tele­health, may be an op­tion. Rather than trav­el­ing an hour for ser­vice, in­di­vid­u­als can talk face-to-face in real time with a pro­fes­sional through a smart­phone, tablet or com­puter.

Kozel said that tech­nol­ogy is al­ready in the hos­pi­tals in Chestertown, Eas­ton and Cam­bridge in in­ten­sive care units. At 7 p.m., he said, cam­eras mounted in ev­ery ICU room are turned on and a doc­tor sit­ting be­hind 50 or 60 screens in a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion can mon­i­tor the var­i­ous pa­tients, re­ceive all the vi­tals and test re­sults across the mon­i­tors and can pro­vide eyes on pa­tients dur­ing times nor­mally not avail­able due to re­sources.

“In the mid­dle of the night we don’t have the man power, re­sources, to have doc­tors in the hospi­tal 24 hours who are in­ten­sivists,” Kozel said. “Telemedicine al­lows the doc­tor to keep their eyes on that pa­tient and they can con­tact the hospi­tal di­rectly if they see some­thing that needs to be ad­dressed right away.”

Be­cause cer­tain types of spe­cial­ists are scarce, Kozel said he fore­sees in­cor­po­rat­ing this type of ser­vice into be­hav­ioral health spe­cial­ties as well as other health seg­ments.

One woman said she didn’t want “some guy in In­di­ana” telling some­body what medicine she should take. “I don’t want that. I want my doc­tor.”

An­other res­i­dent raised con­cern about the length of shifts for the doc­tors and nurses. Though Kozel said it’s com­mon through­out the in­dus­try for em­ploy­ees to work 12 hour shifts three times a week, Chestertown is try­ing to get away from that prac­tice.

One res­i­dent said it was scary to think a doc­tor who had been work­ing on their feet for 10 or 11 hours could be pro­vid­ing crit­i­cal ser­vices to some­one com­ing in at the end of their shift.

On the other hand, one woman said, it can be nice to have con­sis­tency with the nurse or doc­tor rather than have new peo­ple very few hours.

“At the end of the day, it’s got to be about qual­ity. You’re not go­ing to come to us for care if we’re not pro­vid­ing high qual­ity care, even if it’s right next door,” Kozel said. “If we harm you while you’re in the hospi­tal you’re not go­ing to have con­fi­dence in us.”

The fi­nal lis­ten­ing ses­sion will be held from 2 to 3: 30 p. m. Sun­day, April 24, at the Sudlersville Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany, 203 N. Church Street.

For res­i­dents who were un­able to at­tend one of the ses­sions, UM Shore Re­gional Health is still seek­ing in­put. On­line sur­veys can be com­pleted by vis­it­ing UMShoreRe­gional. org/ lis­ten­ing. It is re­quested that all sur­veys be com­pleted by May 1.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Ken Kozel, CEO of Shore Re­gional Health, speaks to com­mu­nity mem­bers dur­ing the sec­ond to last Lis­ten­ing Ses­sion the health provider held to hear what res­i­dents need and want in their com­mu­nity health care.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Ken Kozel, CEO of Shore Re­gional Health, speaks to com­mu­nity mem­bers dur­ing the sec­ond to last Lis­ten­ing Ses­sion the health provider held to hear what res­i­dents need and want in their com­mu­nity health care.

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