GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 10, 2013

My View: Input wanted at Lahey Health forum

My View
Cindy Cafasso Donaldson

---- — I am pleased to announce that Denis Conroy, chief executive officer of Addison Gilbert and Beverly hospitals, and I will be discussing recent updates and developments relative to Addison Gilbert Hospital (AGH) and its parent organization, Lahey Health, this Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Cruiseport Gloucester for the second of our biannual Community Forums.

For those of you who are unable to attend, I wanted to share with you the main discussion points for the forum.

We are almost one year into our affiliation and creation of Lahey Health. In the early stages of development, Lahey Health leaders immediately recognized the value and equity that exists within our community hospital.

Therefore, I am proud to share that our institution will remain known as Addison Gilbert Hospital. In the upcoming months, you will notice the visual identity of Lahey Health and AGH becoming more prominent in the communities we serve, including our new logo and facility signage.

Howard Grant, JD, MD, president and CEO of Lahey Health, and the senior leadership team have identified quality and patient satisfaction as the highest organizational priority. AGH has demonstrated best practices in patient safety and quality, of which the clinical staff and I are very proud. Consistently, Addison Gilbert Hospital ranks amongst the nation’s leaders in patient satisfaction, most recently receiving Press Ganey’s highest recognition as a Summit Award winner in the Senior Adult Unit (SAU) for the second consecutive year.

The health-care environment, both nationally and locally, is changing and is certainly becoming more challenging. This change is not sudden; it has been evolving over the past 20 years, and it is almost certain that the pace of change will continue to accelerate. The good news about the current healthcare environment in Massachusetts is that the quality of care is universally high. Locally, we have some of the best hospitals and health insurers in the nation. While the quality of care is exceptional, the cost to provide it is extremely high.

For AGH, and for Lahey Health, payment rates for the services we provide are changing. Medicare and Medicaid, which together constitute 50 to 70 percent of our organization’s revenue, pay us at a rate that is less than our cost to deliver care. Federal budget issues and actions, such as sequestration, continue to affect our payment rate negatively.

In 2012, Massachusetts legislators passed an act commonly known as the Healthcare Cost Containment Act, which aims to improve the quality of healthcare and to reduce costs through increased transparency, efficiency and innovation. This will also impact the health-care delivery system in the state.

Despite the challenges we will continue to face, AGH and Lahey Health are positioned to remain successful and vibrant even during these times of change and uncertainty. Lahey Health provides AGH with both administrative and clinical benefits. Our patients on Cape Ann now have access to a broader range of tertiary services at the same level of high quality care, but at a lower cost and without having to go into Boston.

One of the benefits of joining Lahey Health that will directly benefit physicians, patients and staff at AGH will be the opportunity to utilize Epic, a state-of-the-art electronic health record (EHR).

Epic will provide us with an unsurpassed level of coordinated information and reporting across all care settings within Lahey Health. Our healthcare providers will have access to their patients’ up-to-date health information as they see the patient in any setting enhancing care team collaboration and patient engagement.

Additionally, many of you may be aware that, on Jan. 1, Lahey Health became a Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO). The ACO provides the framework to manage and coordinate care, including preventative care, for our community. Currently, more than 33,000 patients are included in the Lahey Health ACO, approximately 2,300 of which are from Gloucester and Rockport .

Lahey Health affords AGH the opportunity to participate in both the Epic EHR and the Lahey ACO. Neither of these would be possible for an independent community hospital.

Where there are challenges there is also opportunity. The recently conducted community health needs assessment identified the health-care challenges, gaps in services, and overall health status of the Cape Ann community.

Findings demonstrated that the number of Gloucester residents who utilize the Emergency Department for either substance abuse and/or mental health related care is higher than the rate in the state and Essex County. In response, we have implemented a high-risk screening and referral program in the AGH Emergency Department (ED-SBIRT: Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment).

Working with the Healthy Gloucester Collaborative, the ED-SBIRT program at AGH has provided additional care and support to patients affected by mental health and/or addiction issues. AGH was recently awarded $170,000 from the Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation to expand our ED-SBIRT program. This will allow AGH to be the first community hospital in the state to offer the program to a pediatric population.

Additionally, we are in the process of developing a transportation proposal that will better serve the health-care transportation needs of the Cape Ann residents by improving access to facilities within our system. I will be able to share the details of a pilot program soon.

Your feedback and participation in this community forum are highly valuable to us and I look forward to seeing you at Cruiseport Gloucester on Thursday.

Cindy Cafasso Donaldson is vice president of Addison Gilbert Hospital.