Merging two hospitals into one health care system is an ongoing challenge for a team of doctors and community members entrusted with the task.
Capella Healthcare Inc. leased the former Muskogee Community Hospital effective July 31. Capella also leases the Muskogee Regional Medical Center.
Transition team members say they are considering how to use the new arrangement to reduce duplication in services and fill in gaps.
Among changes already made:
• The closing of the MCH campus emergency room;
• Expansion of services at the MRMC emergency room for urgent care needs; and
• The transfer of women’s imaging services from Providence Imaging to the MCH campus.
There will be more announcements of changes at least through October, when the hospital has planned a naming ceremony for the new health care system created by the merger.
The transition team — formed soon after the announcement of Capella’s lease of the MCH campus — includes doctors, community members, college presidents, and more.
Dr. Timothy Holder, a team member, said the transition team has been trying to find ways to build on the strengths of the MCH facility.
“It has some brand new state-of-the-art equipment and we wanted to capitalize on it,” Holder said.
In addition to imaging services, Muskogee Occupational Medicine has moved to the MCH campus in what was the emergency room.
Much of MRMC’s outpatient surgeries have been being performed at MCH as well, MRMC CEO Kevin Fowler said.
Initially after the change over, the Sleep Center at MCH was moved to MRMC, but it has since moved back to its original location.
Fowler said the transition team, which includes doctors who were original owners of MCH, have been extremely committed to finding ways to improve health care availability in Muskogee.
“They’ve rolled their sleeves up, trying to maintain the level of health care we have but also adding to the services around here,” he said. “The question is, ‘How do we make this the destination for everyone in our region?”
Rather than having patients go to Tulsa for specialty services, the transition team wants to see those services made available in Muskogee.
“The long-term goal of the transition team is to actually build a new health care system in Muskogee to serve the region,” said Dr. Edgar Boyd, a transition team member. “So patients won’t have to be transferred to receive a higher level of care. We want to be the highest level of care.”
One of the biggest gaps for MRMC has been cardiac care, Fowler said. “We have discussed how to lay the foundation to grow where we don’t have to transfer our patients somewhere else.”
Connors State College President Tim Faltyn has been working with the transition team as well. He is impressed with the team’s “dedication” to its task and hopeful for the results.
“From my perspective the biggest change we’ll have is we won’t have duplication of services anymore,” he said. “Which in the long term will allow us to expand all services.
Closing one ER,
When the emergency room on the MCH campus was shut down, the transition team discussed immediately what needed to be done, Boyd said.
The team decided MRMC should reopen its urgent care area on the south side of the ER, Boyd said.
Now, MRMC has an ER for emergency care and one for less critical situations.
Fowler said when patients come into the ER now, they are triaged to the appropriate emergency room, which decreases wait time and improves efficiency for everyone.
Holder said the new system subscribes to the idea of giving the appropriate level of care in an appropriate setting.
“So if you have chest pains or stroke symptoms, or you’ve been sick a while and didn’t want to miss work so you came in to be seen, you’ll get the appropriate and timely treatment you need,” Holder said.
Fowler said the new care ER is doing well.
“So far, the urgent care ER has a turnaround time of about 48 minutes,” he said.
MRMC also has moved its women’s health imaging services to the MCH campus. Other Providence Imaging at MRMC services that also moved include CT scanning, MRI and mammography.
“Muskogee Community Hospital has an outstanding state-of-the-art mammography unit that we were already in the process of trying to acquire for our hospital,” Fowler said.
Additionally, the hospital will add a new bone density scanner and a second digital mammography unit to the MCH facility.
Providence Imaging will soon host other health services, though MRMC has not specified what those are yet.
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or email@example.com.
For more info
Visit www.muskogeeregionalmedical.com/transition for more information on the transition process of the former Muskogee Community Hospital and regular updates on changes Muskogee Regional Medical Center makes at both hospital campuses in the coming months.