Hospital spends on new tech

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TCRH's merger with Duke LifePoint has resulted in investments totaling $3.1 million over the past 9 months.


In the three years before Twin County Regional Healthcare merged with the Duke LifePoint hospital system last year, TCRH spent about $3 million on upgrades to its facilities and equipment.
In the nine months since the partnership began, TCRH/Duke LifePoint has spent more than $3.1 million on new equipment, technology updates, facility upgrades and other special projects, said hospital CEO Jon Applebaum.
This significantly larger investment is just one of the ways the merger is working out as hoped, Applebaum said at a community meeting last Thursday night.
A few of these investments include new vital sign monitors, defibrillators and high-definition video endoscopy system; as well as structural improvements like new roofing, water pumps and lighting.
In 2013, TCRH plans to open Independence Family Care. The hospital recently lost a physician in Independence, which "left a void in the area that we hope to fill," Applebaum said.
The most important new addition is a renovated mammography suite with state-of-the-art equipment.
TCRH held an open house for the community to view the suite on Oct. 4.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, TCRH marketing director Martha Cole said that the timing seemed to work perfectly for the open house.
According to statistics, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. It is the leading cause of death in women ages 35 to 65, and one in eight U.S. women will develop it in their lifetime.
Examples of the new equipment were displayed in the hallway just outside the suite. Next to images taken by the older equipment, the newer images were brighter and showed much more detail. This means that there is a better chance of detecting cancer early enough to prevent it from spreading, said mammography coordinator Kim Kimble.
For the patient, the procedure itself is not different at all. However, results can usually be read twice as fast.
“The older method took 10 minutes while this only takes five,” said Kimble. “But when you are anxious, five minutes is a long time.” It is also less likely that a patient will need to be called back for additional images to be taken.
Kimble decorated the mammography suite to create a more comfortable environment for the patient. The muted purple wallpaper, framed photos of Kimble’s children and a comfortable couch off to the side creates the feel of a family room.
Funding for this new addition totals $240,000 and includes the equipment, reading stations and mammography suite renovation.
All mammograms at TCRH will now be performed with the new system.

Merger Update
After the open house, Applebaum gave a presentation that highlighted this year’s changes since the merger with Duke LifePoint.
When the merger happened, it was important to Twin County Regional Healthcare that it maintain a 50/50 governance arrangement. According to Applebaum, communications between TCRH and Duke LifePoint have proceeded exactly as they hoped.
With 13 hospitals available within a one-hour drive from this area, Twin County Regional Healthcare wants to remain competitive, and to that end will include the community in future decisions. In November, a community insights survey will be conducted to gain a better understanding of what is needed in our community.
“We are beginning to see the fruits of our labor,” said Applebaum, adding that he and the staff are excited for the steps that will be taken in the future to provide better quality care to the community.
Plans for next year will be discussed at another community meeting in January 2013. Applebaum notes that these meetings are planned to continue every three months at TCRH’s conference area on the first floor.

Carilion Changes
During the discussion last Thursday, Dr. Robert Pryor of Carilion Clinic took a moment to discuss the changes taking place in that facility.
Starting on Nov. 1, Carilion Clinic will only offer outpatient services to its patients, while inpatient care will be provided by the Twin County Regional Healthcare’s hospitalist group.
“Carilion will continue to provide support for the hospital in the future,” Pryor said.
This change will allow Carilion to focus more on outpatient care and improve care access for its patients, he said.
When a patient at Carilion requires hospital care, they will be admitted directly to TCRH’s hospitalist service, which will avoid a trip to the emergency room.