Lawrence Memorial Hospital needs to be about more than just Lawrence.
LMH should become a truly regional provider of health care - even competing with some health care providers in Shawnee and Johnson counties - according to a new strategic plan hospital leaders are crafting.
Gene Meyer, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, said going regional was important if the hospital wanted to continue to offer new services.
"The infrastructure we have developed here is much bigger than the patient volume this area alone can support," Meyer said after a Wednesday meeting of the hospital's board of directors, where the plan was reviewed. "The other factor is we quite frankly think we have programs that are better or very competitive with others in the region."
During the past several years, the hospital has added an oncology program, a sleep clinic, a wound healing center and in November will launch a cardiac service that will allow patients to remain in the community to have angioplasty procedures.
Meyer said becoming a regional draw also is important because hospitals in the Kansas City area are continuing to try to draw more patients from Lawrence and eastern Douglas County. That's why another goal in the strategic plan is for the hospital to establish a stronger presence on Kansas Highway 10. Meyer said he wasn't ready to announce specifics, but he said the hospital has watched closely as several Kansas City area hospitals have purchased land along the K-10 corridor.
"Right now it is just land, but if development does occur on that property, part of the area they would potentially draw from includes Lawrence," Meyer said. "That has been on our radar screen."
Board members did not take any official action on the strategic plan but agreed to study it in more detail at a later date. Donna Osness, board president, said the document deserved careful review.
"It is a dynamic document that we'll be going back to a lot when we make big decisions," Osness said.
Other goals included in the plan, which is designed to guide the hospital for the next three years, are:
¢ Meeting long-term parking needs at the hospital. Meyer said that could involve building a parking garage. But he said the hospital doesn't have a site chosen and would need extensive conversations with the neighborhood.
¢ Increase market share with the 40- to 55-year-old age group of the population.
¢ Improve the hospital's financial rating to an A rating by Moody's. Currently the hospital has a Baa rating with a positive outlook. The ratings are important because they determine the interest rates the hospital will pay as it takes out debt for a $35 million expansion.
Privacy concerns come to forefront after fire
Lawrence Memorial Hospital employees responded well to a large number of patients who came to the emergency department as the result of the Boardwalk Apartments fire, LMH executives said Wednesday.
But one of the more challenging issues was protecting the patients' privacy, Janice Early-Weas, the hospital's director of community relations told LMH board members Wednesday. Early-Weas said Lawrence Police officers asked to see medical files of the patients so they could determine their names and ways to contact them or a family member. Police officers wanted the information because they were trying to account for 24 people missing after the fire.
Early-Weas said the hospital wanted to help, but determined the request would violate state and federal laws protecting patient private information.
"We decided it probably wasn't appropriate, but we worked out a nice compromise," Early-Weas said.
Hospital administrators called the patients and then asked them if they could immediately speak to a police officer, who was then given the phone. The process accounted for 18 people who were previously listed as missing.
New hospital board members take seats
A Lawrence architect and a retired chief investment officer are the two newest members of the LMH board of directors.
Allen Belot, a Lawrence architect and the son of longtime Lawrence physician Monti Belot, and Chuck Heath, former investment officer for Kansas City-based ERC Corp., took their seats on the board Wednesday.
Neither man said they brought strong feelings on any particular subject - such as the debate surrounding the closure of LMH's inpatient mental health unit - that the board has been considering. Belot said he thought his architectural skills would be helpful as LMH moves ahead on a $35 million expansion. Heath said his financial background would be useful as the hospital expands and manages its multi-million dollar budget.
The two replace Bob Schulte, who left the board after serving for 10 years, and Scott Bailey, who had to leave the board for work reasons. Appointments to the board are made by the mayor.