By Michele Pilon
President/CNO, Transylvania Regional Hospital
As we enter 2018, many of us have carefully considered our New Year’s resolutions. We’re now all ready to live up to the goals we’ve set for ourselves, or at least give it our best shot. Our goal at Transylvania Regional Hospital is the same this year as every year: to be the best Critical Access Hospital (CAH) we can be, by serving our community’s needs.
So what does that mean?
CAHs serve an astounding number of people annually – nearly 60 million people across the country. The definition of a CAH is a rural hospital with an Emergency Department that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, maintains a total of 25 inpatients or less, and has an average four-day patient length of stay. These facilities are also usually over 35 miles from the nearest hospital, or 15 miles away in mountainous regions like Transylvania County. TRH, however, was deemed a necessary provider by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a designation given to facilities that may not meet the usual mileage requirements, but nonetheless provide critical community healthcare services.
We’re proud and humbled to have received Top 20 CAH status for four years in a row. We have also received accreditation for our lab and mammography services. It’s important to remember that we don’t provide care in isolation. Mission Health provides us with valuable benefits that not only enhance our community’s access to care, but ensure it’s the best care available. With five member hospitals across western North Carolina supported by Mission Health, we have a network of care that has been recognized as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health System by Truven Health Analytics®/IBM Watson Health™ in five out of the last six years.
Additionally, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just released its Star Ratings for hospitals nationwide and Transylvania Regional Hospital was one of two Mission Health Hospitals to receive a 4 Star Rating, while three of our other Mission Health Hospitals (out of only ten hospitals in the entire state) received the prestigious 5 Star Rating (see all rankings at: medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html ). In addition, our Transitional Care Unit at TRH also recently received CMS’ prestigious 5 Star Rating for Nursing Homes, a rating that we have consistently received for the last four years (see all Nursing Home rankings at: medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html ).
Every CAH faces challenges like attracting and keeping skilled specialty service physicians and determining which services are both safe and practical to offer, based on community needs and financial realities. However, supported by Mission Health, we are able to provide access to advanced resources and technological capabilities not only through our local expert providers, but also through innovative tools like telemedicine, a type of care that enables Mission Hospital specialty physicians and clinicians in Asheville and other areas to consult in “real time” with physicians, nurses, and patients at TRH. This technology also allows us to provide care locally to patients in need of urgent stroke care, wound care, and psychiatric care, as well as 24X7 access to a physician for all of our hospitalized patients.
Our connection to Mission Health also enables us to provide other innovative virtual services. Think you might have the flu, a urinary tract infection or other routine problem but can’t (or don’t want) to travel? Check out the Mission Virtual Clinic by visiting mission-health.org/virtual-clinic.php . Patients also receive superior medical transport services, whether by an ambulance or our sophisticated MAMA helicopters. Mission Health provides additional support to us in the form of a staffing pool comprised of physicians, nurses, and others who serve at TRH when needed.
The rich legacy of community and hospital foundation support for TRH is exemplary, and has been further enhanced by the Mission Health Department of Philanthropy to ensure that our services and facility remain sustainable and state-of-the-art. Anyone who enters our newly opened, expanded, and renovated Emergency Department or receives a bone density test in our new Women’s Imaging Suite will see what this support means: state-of-the art medical technology, more room for our patients and caregivers that improves flow and productivity, and increased comfort for our patients and their families. In addition, the Mission Health system provides capital funding for various items, such as essential equipment and construction projects.
We’re grateful to be a vital part of this wonderful community – and one which attracts new residents in part due to the care and access we offer. My personal resolution for 2018 is to continue to guide TRH in a way that is most responsive to the unique needs of our community. I hope you will join me in that goal.
Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the President and CNO of Transylvania Regional Hospital.