Kansas City, Kan. Robert Hostetler, of Prairie Village, was among the first patients at Kansas University Hospital to be moved in late June to a newly constructed area on the eighth floor.
Everything was new: the beds, lights, tables and monitoring system, and then there was the magnificent view of the city.
“Oh, it’s amazing,” Hostetler, 79, said. “We moved over here yesterday in the morning and it’s entirely different. It’s bigger. The hallway is longer — more spacious in the hallways.”
Then, he pointed to the large bathroom, which had a sliding door. “Isn’t that something?” he asked. “It’s like a hotel.”
It was part of a three-floor expansion project above KU Hospital’s Center for Advanced Heart Care, which added 84 beds to the hospital this summer, bringing the hospital’s total number to 652.
The $56.7 million expansion project included:
l A 32-bed unit on the seventh floor for heart and family medicine patients.
l A 32-bed acute care unit on the eighth floor for patients with neurological or ear, nose and throat, —commonly called ENT — problems.
l A 20-bed intensive care unit on the ninth floor for patients with neurological or ENT problems.
Stacy Smith, nursing manager of the intensive care unit, said they commonly ran out of beds before the move.
“We’ve been very busy and had great demand for our type of expertise,” she said.
Besides adding space, the project incorporated new safety measures for patients because a majority are prone to falling. They also have a new rehabilitation room and a room where the brain activity of patients can be closely monitored.
“I am just amazed at what I have here because I shake my head and say, ‘My young nurses have no idea what it was like to work in health care 25 years ago,’” Smith said. “This is amazing. It is spacious. It doesn’t look like a hospital.”
The construction project is just one of many that have occurred at KU Hospital during the past five years to help keep up with growing demand for its services.
Between 2007 and 2011, inpatient visits grew 29 percent, from 20,800 to 26,900, and outpatient visit climbed 44 percent, from 250,000 visits to 361,000.
One year ago, KU Hospital opened a six-floor, $85 million medical building that serves as the main hub for outpatient care and a 600-car parking garage across the street. Patients no longer have to meander through the hospital for outpatient appointments and tests.
This year, the hospital will add about 20 surgeons and six operating rooms to help with the increase in surgeries. KU Hospital has seen a 29 percent increase during the past four years and reported 17,700 surgeries in 2011.
It also has opened a two-floor surgical facility in Johnson County called the KU Hospital Indian Creek campus. It has seven operating rooms and 19 inpatients beds. It offers six specialities: orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, general surgery, interventional radiology, urology and pain management. In addition to the inpatient facility, the Indian Creek Campus also offers sport medicine and spine clinical services.
Tammy Peterman, chief operating officer, said the hospital plans to open a new organ transplant center at the beginning of 2013, if not sooner, that will bring all outpatient clinics into one location.
“It will be great for our growing transplant program,” she said.
The hospital also is re-establishing its heart transplant program, which was shut down in 1995. The recent move was sparked by a $1.5 million donation from Dr. William Reed, chairman of the hospital’s department of cardiovascular diseases, and his wife, Mary Reed. KU Hospital will become only the second hospital in the Kansas City area to perform heart transplants, joining St. Luke’s Medical Center.
Keys to success
Bob Page, president and chief executive officer, said he believes the keys to the hospital’s success have been focusing on providing high-quality patient care, having a strong partnership between hospital staff and medical staff, and transparency.
“We made a decision early on that you share the data whether it’s good or bad. Some organizations decide to share only the good data and they keep the bad stuff inside the office, and we’ve never done that,” he said.
Page said it’s also important to celebrate accomplishments.
“We learned as an executive team that you have to celebrate little victories. You have to celebrate with people to thank them for making progress toward their goal and to recognize them for their efforts,” he said.
The hospital has had a lot to celebrate.
In July, it was named the best adult hospital in Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area by U.S. News & World Report. KU Hospital also ranked in 10 of 12 medical and surgical specialty areas, including cancer, heart, kidney, neurology and ENT.
“When we benchmark data, we compare ourselves to the very best,” Page said. “We find out who is the best performer in that area and then we figure out how to close the gap between what they do and we do.”
Page said the hospital isn’t putting an emphasis in any one specialty area. Instead, work is being done on all of them.
“We are strong across the board here. That’s what makes it exciting because we are a one-stop shop. You can get it all done, and you can get it done at the highest quality,” he said.
The role of an academic hospital is to take care of the sickest patients, and Page said KU is fulfilling that role as it is consistently ranked in the top 25 percent of teaching hospitals in the country.
In 2011, KU had 407 fewer deaths than expected based on a patient’s severity of condition and other risk factors, according to the University HealthSystem Consortium, which tracks mortality statistics.
Page said his goal is for KU Hospital to become not only a destination for residents of Kansas and Missouri, but for people across the nation.
Last year, it took care of people from every county in Kansas, including 3,161 from Douglas County. It also saw 2,099 patients from outside of Missouri and Kansas. Those patients were from states across the country, including Alaska, California, Maine and Florida.
“As we figure out how to get more cash, we will put that into good use to create more facilities on this campus and take great care of even more patients than we do today,” he said.
Page said people often mistakenly think the hospital receives taxpayer money, but it hasn’t since Oct. 1, 1998, when the hospital moved from a state entity to one governed by its own authority. The hospital has financed expansion projects through philanthropy, bonding authority and operational revenues. Its total revenue was $805 million in 2011, up 325 percent since 1998.
“I think the theme out of all of this is that it’s all about the culture that we created, and one of things we do to perpetuate that is we tell a lot of stories,” Page said. “As we say, ‘There’s a story every day. There’s a story with every patient interaction.’ We make sure we model those stories for our staff.”
Page and Peterman often are found mingling with staff and patients, and they didn’t miss the opportunity to visit with patients in the newly opened neurology area. Peterman said one patient described the staff as remarkable, and she asked the patient what she meant by that description. Her reply: “They just consistently go above and beyond. It’s personalized care that I feel in this really big place.”
Since 1999, patient satisfaction has grown from 10 percent to 91 percent, according to a Press Ganey survey.
Count Hostetler among the satisfied patients. He said he returned to KU Hospital because he was “extremely happy” with the care he was provided seven months earlier. He has had seizures and swelling in his brain, and KU Hospital is working to figure out the cause of his illness and how to treat it.
His daughter, Amanda Hostetler, said, “He has an unusual set of illnesses, so we are lucky we ended up here in the first place. He needs an academic center where they see the unusual things.”
She described the new state-of-the-art facility as the icing on the cake.
“This is a big improvement. Very, very fancy,” she said.
— Health reporter Karrey Britt can be reached at 832-7190.