This morning’s (Jan. 20) Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustee meeting began by recognizing Dr. Mark Praeger, a longtime Lawrence surgeon, for having served on the nine-member board since 2001.
Chairman Joe Flannery presented him with a plaque.
Praeger had been in private practice with Lawrence Surgery Associates, which merged Jan. 1 with another private surgery practice called General Surgery. The new group is called Lawrence General Surgery and it is employed by LMH. The new group also includes Drs. Steve Myrick, William Freund Jr., and Cheryl Rice.
Since opening Jan. 4, the practice has had 700 patients.
Since Praeger is an employee of the hospital, he is no longer eligible to serve on the Board of Trustees.
Praeger’s term was scheduled to expire in September 2010, so Lawrence Mayor Rob Chestnut will have to appoint someone to complete the term.
CEO and President Gene Meyer announced a new oncologist, Michelle Affield, will be joining the hospital in November. She is completing her oncology fellowship at Kansas University Medical Center.
“We are extremely excited that she is going to be joining us,” he said.
Meyer and Janice Early-Weas, communications director, attended Saturday’s meeting (Jan. 16) of the Pinckney Neighborhood Association.
They discussed Woody Park and possible plans to turn it into a parking lot. Meyer said parking continues to be a problem for the hospital. No definite plans have been made. He said discussions continue with members of the Woody family, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the city of Lawrence.
About 15 people attended Saturday’s meeting. Meyer said he also answered other questions about the hospital.
“It was like a town hall meeting,” he said. “There was good dialogue.”
Meyer, a member of the American Hospital Association, says he is no expert on health reform.
When people ask if the hospital is ready, he doesn’t know how to reply.
“I am not sure if we are ready,” he said.
He does think “change” is coming. The good news is that the hospital will have at least a couple of years before any laws are implemented.
He said the association sent a 27-page letter to lawmakers about concerns, but doesn’t think that will be very persuasive at this point.
For example, the House bill expands Medicaid eligibility to those up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The Senate bill expands Medicaid eligibility to those at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. AHA’s position is to adopt the Senate provision and include the original House funding approach that would provide all states 100 percent federal funding through 2019 for the expanded population.
Karen Shumate, vice president of clinical services, said the hospital will be hiring a part-time employee in February who will help patients connect to the care they need once they are dismissed from the hospital.
For example, the employee will help a low-income patient find prescription medicine programs he or she might qualify for. If a patient needs a followup appointment, but can’t afford it, the new employee might direct them to the Leo Center or Health Care Access. If they don’t have transportation, they can hook them up with resources.
Shumate said they also will look at people who use the emergency room more often than others and whether there was a community service that could have helped prevent such trips.
Shumate said she hasn’t found a “continued care” program like the one at LMH. The hospital could be leading the nation.
(Note: I will be doing a larger story on this program in the coming weeks.)
Dr. Vance Burns, a hospitalist, will be leaving in April. LMH has hired a Kansas University student who is completing her residency in internal medicine to replace him. She will be starting this summer.
Jeff Novorr, vice president, said the student did a rotation at the hospital under Dr. Charles Yockey, which made a lasting impression and helped seal the deal.
There are eight hospitalists.