Notable GCH accomplishments in 2013

by Cyndy Platt, Director of Public Relations

Published in The Daily Union, February 8, 2014


A little over a year ago we introduced Dr. Joe Stratton to the Junction City and Geary County communities. He was chosen by the Geary Community Hospital Board of Trustees to assume the top spot at the hospital, which was vacated by Chief Executive Officer David Bradley who retired after 17 years in August 2012.

Stratton is a great collaborator and a believer in the value of teamwork. If he were asked who to credit for all the upgrades and improvements, he would, of course, give credit to his administrative team: Alice Jensen, chief operations officer; Darren Rumford, chief financial officer; and Teto Henderson, director of human resources. He would also include the seven trustees and all the department managers and employees who participated in this year’s activities. But, great accomplishments follow great leadership, and that’s where Stratton succeeds.

So what has been accomplished since Stratton took over? Most notably, Stratton’s team put together a comprehensive and collaborative strategic plan within the first 90 days, which incorporates five pillars, each with multiple goals, timelines and persons responsible. The five pillars are titled: Patients and Families, Quality Workforce, Quality Care, Business Development and Financial. In the interest of brevity, two of the more interesting goals are highlighted here.


Patient Satisfaction

One project Stratton tackled immediately was improving patient satisfaction across the hospital, but especially in the emergency department (ER). The ER is a place where patients are unhappy and don’t feel well in the first place, so having satisfied patients is extremely difficult in any hospital ER. However, with the help of a new physician staffing company called EmCare, the ER staff now does real-time bedside surveying before the patient leaves. The Qualitik Electronic Realtime Survey gives the patient and/or family an opportunity to comment on the care they received, the treatment by the doctors and nurses, and the wait time.

“In our first round of Qualitik surveys, we had 95 percent positive results,” said Stephanie Stremming, RN, nurse manager of the emergency department. Stremming receives the surveys as soon as the patient is finished entering them on an electronic tablet and is able to respond back to the patient and/or investigate complaints before the patient leaves the hospital. So far, it’s working well.


Quality Refocusing and Retooling

Stratton also has a new focus on quality, and not just the clinical side that patients expect. He’s also interested in the safety of the building, access to the hospital from the parking lots and if the food is good, for example.

“We are focusing and retooling toward proactive, system-wide, deliberate quality,” Stratton said. “We’re getting everyone to understand what our definition of quality is so that they do the right thing at the right time—every time.” He used painting a house as an example. Everyone comes to the project with a different color and a different technique in mind. He wants everyone to approach quality in a uniform manner so that the outcomes are positive and predictable.


“A Century of Caring”

The hospital celebrated 100 years in business this year with the theme, “A Century of Caring.” Dr. W.A. Carr founded the original city hospital on September 9, 1913. Receptions and events, articles through local and regional media, a parade float, a display from the Geary County Historical Museum and a time capsule highlighted the five-month celebration.


Physician changes

On the physician front, we honored Dr. Ronald Mace who retired from family medicine at GCH after 38 years of service. Dr. Mace’s replacement was Dr. Rafael Velasquez who studied with Dr. Mace in the University of Kansas Family Practice Residency Program-Junction City Rural Track and worked on Fort Riley before joining us. Physician Assistant Dennis Sewell joined Dr. Velasquez’s practice and is building his own practice. Dr. Mary Otoo, a general surgeon out of the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, joined Dr. Charles Bollman and Dr. Fouad Hachem in the Flint Hills Surgical Clinic at GCH.


Diagnostic imaging technology

The big news lately is the hospital’s acquisition of new state-of-the-art MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerized tomography) scanners, made possible through a partnership with the Geary Community Healthcare Foundation. Both imaging devices are the latest technology and were installed inside the newly renovated Rago Radiology department, which was part of the original master facility plan.

Both units provide extra-large and thinner openings for less claustrophobia; better table height for easier access; a quieter experience and much faster exams. The image quality of both is also the best between Kansas City and Denver (on I-70), according to Chief Radiologist Dr. Pat Landes.

The next column will focus on what lies ahead for Geary Community Hospital in 2014.