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Chat about hospital quality with Gene Meyer, president and CEO of LMH

July 3, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Gene Meyer

The federal government recently released an online database rating hospitals across the nation. Gene Meyer, president and CEO of LMH, will take questions about his hospital's performance.

Moderator:

Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. Our guest for today's online chat is Gene Meyer, president and CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Mr. Meyer was quoted in a story in the Journal-World today about hospital ratings. That will be our topic today, among other health-care issues. Welcome, Mr. Meyer.

Gene Meyer:

Dennis, glad to be here and hope we can answer any questions that may have come from this morning's article.

Moderator:

To create a more consumer-oriented health care system, according to reporter Christine Metz' article today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released updated data on how much Medicare pays hospitals for common surgeries, and death rates from heart attacks and heart failure at hospitals.
Since 2005, CMS has provided data that rate how well hospitals follow certain medical practices, such as whether heart attack patients take an aspirin as soon as they arrive in the emergency room or whether patients are counseled to stop smoking.
LMH appears to be right in line with the national average in terms of patient care. What does that tell you?

Gene Meyer:

That is correct in fact LMH ranks near the top in our region as far as compliance with standards is concerned. This tells me that our caregivers take quality very seriously and follow these standards as an integral part of our caregiving activities. We await additional standards that will be rolled out in coming months.

Moderator:

Here come some questions from our readers.

bambi:

I have been on the hhs.gov website and find the data interesting. (What I can understand of it) But I have a question... how accurate/timely is this data? Is it current or 2 to 3 years old?

Gene Meyer:

Join the crowd. It is extremely difficult to understand, we hope they and other sources will modify the information for consumer ease. Our understanding is that it is 2 years old. That is unfortunate but at this time the best that can be done. That delay is at the government's end, not the reporting source.

working_momma:

Is this ratings database tied to Joint commission findings at all?

Gene Meyer:

No they publish a seperate site. You raise a great point however, various sites have different reporting requirements that make it challenging for our staff to keep up. Also there are different timeframes for each.

kmishler:

How does LMH use the data referenced in today's LJW article at the Board of Trustee's level?

Gene Meyer:

We do a dashboard for all our quality indicators on a quarterly basis. This information is reviewed by our Quality Committee of the Board and then by our full Board. The Board takes this and other quality information very seriously and spends more time on these matters than any other subject. The Board also feels transparency of information is vital and important as a community hospital.

Moderator:

Are those reports to the board available to the public? And if so, where can one find them?

Gene Meyer:

They are on our website. When we say a dashboard, we try to look at key relevant data and use the results for performance improvement. This comprises the dashboard. We welcome anyone to review this and pose any questions to us.

Sagecasey:

First of all, I would like to say that LMH has a wonderful maternity department. My wife and I had a wonderful experience with the birth of our first child. All of the improvements being made to LMH at the moment seem cosmetic. In light of the quality reports wouldn't that money be better spent for retaining quality employees or more updated technological equipment?

Gene Meyer:

Thanks for the compliments and congratulations. A couple of thoughts on your questions. First our turnover rate is amongst the lowest in the nation for RN's and all staff. We have worked hard on this and the results are shown on the before mentioned dashboard. As far as the renovations, we hope the result will look good but they are really made to meet patient care needs. Private rooms are a must. In maternity for example last week we had 16 mothers on our 12 bed unit requiring us to use additional beds adjacent to maternity. This was not ideal but the renovations will provide additional beds to meet this need. As far as the emergency department is concerned, more privacy and space for the caregivers will result. Please be assured that we have taken a conservative approach to the "finishes" and place utmost importance on patient care.

bambi:

My father went to the hospital with a heart attack and had to go to St Lukes South for stents. Will LMH ever be able to do that here, in Lawrence, so we wouldn't have to travel so far?

Gene Meyer:

Hope he is doing well. Yes we currently do stents and eventually will be able to perform them 24/7/365. We have one interventionalist who performs these and as our volume grows should be able to support at least one more. There are times that patients are transferred when patient care conditions warrant but it is our hope that these numbers will be reduced. I believe everyone feels patient care is best closer to home when it can be done well.

Sagecasey:

What is LMH doing to help the uninsured population? What percentage of LMH patients are uninsured? Does the definiton of quality differ between the those with insurance compared to those without?

Gene Meyer:

Good question and timely with recent news nationwide of various state's efforts to assist in this national issue. LMH currently supports Health Care Access patients with care delivered at LMH and is not reimbursed for. Our uninsured rate is in excess of 5% and grows each year. As far as differences in care we take this very seriously and do regular reviews to assure that our patients receive the same level of care regardless of insured/uninsured background.

Moderator:

Is that 5 percent figure of uninsured patients in line with national rates?

Gene Meyer:

I believe that it is. Of course different hospitals that serve different populations of patients varies as to amount of uninsured depending on the population of their service areas.

Moderator:

Who pays for the hospital bills that go unpaid by the patient?

Gene Meyer:

Tough question. The bills that are not paid either by the unisured that do not have the means to pay or those we serve that do not pay is absorbed into our operations or are written off. The definition of charity care is one that we work closely with our patients and their families to meet so that they will not have the burden. We work closely with patients on payment plans to assist in meeting their obigations. There are of course those unisured that have the ability to pay and efforts are made to collect for services rendered.

Moderator:

How is the hospital expansion coming?

Gene Meyer:

If the weather would cooperate and slow down the rain, it would get back on schedule. We are slightly behind on the east tower but hopefully will catch up this summer. Unfortunately as a part of the progress we will have some of the adjacent streets torn up in the coming weeks but the end result will be worth the challenges. We should be done in March 2009.

mrpaxico:

Earlier in the conversation, you mentioned that you monitor "dashboards" on quality indicators. If LMH identifies a problem area with one of the quality indicators, what happens next? If a change in care is needed, how is it acted upon and what staff within the hospital are involved?

Gene Meyer:

First it is not only the areas that are on our dashboards that are monitored. Our Quality Department reviews hundreds of cases to assure quality patient care. If however an area on the dashboard shows either a trend that is not positive or a trend that falls below our stated goal we will create a group of those most intimately involved to determine the issues and seek corrective actions. This must be done timely and then the resulting changes are further monitored to assure that the appropriate action was taken. We are never satisfied and seek to identify other opportunities to improve upon.

Moderator:

We are running out of time. I want to thank Mr. Meyer for joining us today. I also want to thank the readers for your questions.

Gene Meyer:

Thanks for the excellent questions and I hope I was able to answer them completely. If however you have additional questions or comments my direct line at LMH is 749-6130 and I welcome your thoughts or suggestions. Thanks for your support for LMH.

Comments

Raphael 7 years, 3 months ago

Gene - I am sorry I missed this live chat, but you were asked excellent questions, and your answers were very informative.

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sinister9128 7 years, 3 months ago

Hope you're enjoying that raise.

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Homey 7 years, 3 months ago

Lawrence Memorial Hospital has earned national recognition for its "excellence in cardiac care."

In May, VHA Inc., a national health care provider alliance based in Irving, Texas, named LMH as a recipient of the 2006 Leadership Award for Clinical Excellence. LMH was one of 98 member VHA hospitals to receive the recognition.

"This award validates the dedicated focus of our clinical staff and physicians to improve the care we provide cardiac patients," Gene Meyer, LMH president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

The award is based on the hospital's performance in handling standard protocols in cases of patients suffering heart attacks or heart failures. LMH's performance was based on certain nationally accepted standards. Following those standards have been shown to improve the quality of care and outcomes in heart patient cases.

LMH was recognized for the same award in 2005.

The focus on clinical improvement at LMH has been a team effort, Meyer said.

"This award recognizes that patients are benefiting from our continuing efforts to deliver high-quality care," he said.

In November 2005, LMH began to improve its care in the area of internal cardiology. Previously, the hospital could conduct diagnostic procedures to determine heart blockage but didn't have the resources to treat the problem, so patients were sent to other hospitals.

"Now we have an interventional cardiologist who can do those procedures," LMH spokeswoman Janice Early-Weas said. "That keeps more patients here in town for the procedures deemed important for them."

LMH also is nationally accredited as a chest pain center.

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