Steady progress at UM Shore Regional Health

KENNETH D. KOZEL

University of Maryland Shore Regional Health experienced significant progress in 2019 toward achieving our mission "Creating Healthier Communities Together" and our vision "To Be the Region’s Leader in Patient Centered Health Care."

As in years past, the amazing talent, steadfast commitment and highly engaged teamwork of the nearly 3,000 members of our UM SRH family enabled us to move forward in each of our key goals.

Delivering a positive patient experience is our guiding principle at UM SRH. This is only possible in a healthy and collegial workplace environment. I am continually impressed by the many ways our team members — providers, staff and volunteers — support each other and go “above and beyond” for our patients and their family members.

Key achievements during 2019 were the announcement of our full, three-year re-accreditation by the Joint Commission in March and in September, our achievement of the American Nurse Credentialing Center’s Magnet status for our three hospitals, our emergency center, our two home care agencies and the Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation.

Joint Commission accreditation and Magnet recognition validate and enhance UM SRH’s reputation for outstanding patient care.

In addition, our Cardiac Intervention Center (CIC) received two Mission: Lifeline Quality Achievement Awards from the American Heart Association and from the American Stroke Association, our Primary Stroke Center again received the Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll.

These honors reflect our achievements in providing the most effective heart attack and stroke treatment according to nationally recognized guidelines.

An important development in our focus on enhancing rural health care is the establishment of a coordinated Population Health initiative designed to help individuals with chronic disease manage their conditions, enhance awareness of prevention strategies and improve health literacy.

Our Transitional Nurse Navigator program is helping to reduce hospital readmissions and our Population Health Department launched a very successful medication management support program, through which one of our pharmacists regularly visits senior centers in the region to assist seniors who need help with their medications.

I am confident that our Population Health initiatives will strongly support our commitment to helping community members maintain their best health in their home setting.

We have submitted a modified Certificate of Exemption application to the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) to relocate inpatient behavioral health beds from UM Shore Medical Center at Dorchester to UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. Pending approval by the MHCC, construction of the inpatient unit at Chestertown could begin in 2020, with the opening anticipated in 2021.

We continue working with community partners to ensure a robust continuum of behavioral health services that serves the entire Mid-Shore region as we recognize the importance of having regional inpatient beds and local comprehensive outpatient care to support our community’s needs.

Most recently, we established the UM SRH Heart and Vascular Center, which includes the Cardiac Cath Lab, UM Shore Medical Group-Cardiology, cardiovascular diagnostics, vascular laboratories, cardiopulmonary rehab and five diagnostic centers. The Heart and Vascular Center will increase vascular service offerings and continue to provide life-saving emergency cardiac care services.

Last year saw important advances in access to care.

Thanks to the addition of new providers in cardiology, diabetes and endocrinology, neurology, palliative care, pediatrics, primary care and women’s health, UM Shore Medical Group now includes more than 170 physicians, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. Each day, along with our contracted hospitalists, emergency care and radiology teams, these providers bring professional expertise and personal dedication to quality, compassionate health care.

Many UM Shore Medical Group providers see patients in two or more locations around the region, making access to excellent care, close to home a reality for our patients and their families.

Another significant accomplishment was the inauguration of two rural residency programs for physicians in training — one in primary care, now in development with the start-up funded through a three-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the other currently in place in emergency care under the auspices of our emergency care physicians’ group.

Designed to address the shortage of physicians interested and experienced in rural health care, these programs complement our physician recruitment efforts and enhance our emerging role as an academic or “teaching” health system.

Our UM Shore Medial Pavilion at Denton opened in February. This two-story, 50,000 square foot medical office building is home to primary care providers, diagnostics and lab services, a multi-specialty suite, outpatient behavioral health services and telemedicine and outpatient rehabilitation services.

It has been very exciting to see this long-held dream become a reality for Caroline County.

We also passed a major milestone in our plans for Dorchester County.

In mid-December, we finalized the land purchase for our planned UM Shore Medical Campus at Cambridge, which will transition services to a new, state-of-the-art health care campus featuring 24/7 emergency care (including a helicopter landing pad), short-stay observation care, an outpatient surgery center, diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, outpatient specialty medical care, chronic disease management services, telemedicine and outpatient behavioral health programs.

This is a significant step in our ongoing collaboration with Dorchester County and the City of Cambridge and we look forward to breaking ground this winter and opening the new campus in 2021.

With our efforts in 2019 to address the need for relocation of behavioral health inpatient beds and inpatient medical/surgical beds from Cambridge, we are now able to seek final approval from the state for our new UM Shore Medical Center in Easton with plans to open our new regional facility in 2024.

The key to the success of any health care organization is its team — their level of engagement in their day-to-day duties, their dedication to providing safe and compassionate quality care for every patient and their commitment to positive collaboration with colleagues and co-workers in all departments.

While we did have to bid farewell to key individuals who retired this year, we also honored hundreds of others who achieved service milestones of 10 to 45 years with UM SRH. I have been especially gratified that team members at all levels of our organization are actively involved in major workplace initiatives, including those focused on creating and implementing strategies that ensure optimal safety for our patients, their family members and visitors, our team members and our volunteers.

UM SRH is very fortunate to enjoy the support of our three foundations and auxiliaries whose events and campaigns raise funds to help us keep pace with advances in medical technology and also support clinical staff in their pursuit of higher education and specialty certifications.

During 2019, financial support totaling more than $800,000 enabled us to purchase key surgical equipment in Easton, replace imaging and lab equipment in Chestertown and Dorchester, purchase new technology for the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center and enhance security at UM Shore Emergency Center at Queenstown.

I deeply appreciate all foundation and auxiliary board members, officers and volunteers — and of course, the thousands of donors who have responded to campaign calls for support — for their generosity benefiting quality patient care.

I am profoundly grateful for the passion, dedication and commitment of all UM SRH team members and our community partners, and at the dawn of a new year and new decade, look forward to further advancing our mission and vision as we enhance our health care system to promote the health of the communities we serve.

Kenneth D. Kozel is president and CEO of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health.

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