First in a series
With 2010 around the corner in a few days, local hospitals are preparing themselves for a busy year in health care, making plans and changes to fit the needs of their patients.
Officials at Banner Health Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West are strengthening the services they provide to both retirees and families.
"We’re in a location where the hospital is meeting the needs of a retirement community, along with residents from the Surprise, Wickenburg and Wittmann," said John Harrington Jr., CEO of Banner Del E. Webb Hospital. "We have to be ready to handle the influx of people."
Harrington said Banner Del E. Webb is focusing on three major initiatives next year, particularly orthopedics, cardiovascular and women and infant services.
The hospital recently finished construction on a new catheterization laboratory, which allows doctors to look at the arteries and heart. Harrington said Del Webb needed an up-to-date cath lab, after 18 years of use with the original one.
In addition, there are plans for a second lab because of the high volume of cases.
Orthopedics are a part of the major plan at the hospital in 2010.
"When people google orthopedics, we want the hospital to be right at the top of the page," Harrington said.
Harrington said Del Webb performs more joint replacement surgeries than any Banner Health hospital. It also have a "joint camp" with doctors and physical therapists to help orthopedic patients get back on their feet in a comfortable manner.
"Our goal is to have the best orthopedic program around," he said.
More than anything, however, Harrington said the hospital will help create a stronger identity for the women and infants program.
Del Webb doctors deliver approximately 170 babies a month and 2,000 a year. And Harrington said they have the capacity to do up to 4,000 births.
The neonatal unit also will be upgraded to level two, so that parents and children won’t be sent to another hospital for better care.
"You would be surprised at how many people in Surprise still don’t know that we deliver babies, because of our location," said Harrington. "But we’re a community hospital that really wants to meet the needs of the people in the surrounding communities."
With growth in the area, Harrington said the campus will be prepared to build if possible in the future.
"The fourth and fifth floors in the new tower still are shells, so we can renovate accordingly," he said. "And we have some extra land to build if necessary."
In 2010, the hospital is implementing its biggest change by converting to electronic health records. Nurses, doctors and staff won’t need paper documents anymore.
Harrington said everyone who touches the records, particularly the doctors and nurses, must go through hours of training first.
Nurses are expected to use the electronic records by April,
There are number of challenges the hospital expects to meet head on, said Harrington, who has been CEO of Del Webb for nine months.
The top of Harrington’s agenda will be recruiting more staff and with a nursing and doctor shortage that has been difficult.
"We’re going to be making major efforts towards recruitment," he said.
With the swine flu season in gear, Harrington said Del Webb is prepared for whatever might happen, even though "no one will know how the waves hit." Visitor restrictions have been placed on children 12-years-old or younger, who are very susceptible to the disease.
"It’s hard to tell kids that they can’t visit grandma or even see their newborn sibling, but we’re just taking a lot of precautions for now until it’s safe again," Harrington said.
Mitchell Vantrease may be reached at 623-876-2526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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