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Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center

by Christine McLaughlin

The Right Care, Right Here: Quality care, excellence in cardiology and happy patients are major reasons why Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center is among the best hospitals in the nation.

When it comes to accessing health care, we typically don’t think of how much value it will bring us as patients, especially if we have insurance. But with the ever-changing landscape of health care and the tightening financial belt of insurance companies that pay for it, value is—or will be soon—just as important as quality of care. Meaning, these two factors are not mutually exclusive.

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden sets the example in the area by continually striving to provide the highest quality outcomes at the lowest possible cost. In fact, Lourdes was ranked No. 1 in the state of New Jersey by HealthGrades overall for cardiac services in 2012. It also received HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award in 2012. For the past two years, Lourdes continues to be ranked by HealthGrades as one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals and received its Distinguished Hospital Award – Clinical Excellence. Lourdes has also been named as a U.S. News & World Report “Best Regional Hospital” in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area for two years in a row.

Involved MDs
The reason for this is fairly simple, says Reginald Blaber, MD, executive director of Lourdes’ Cardiology Services and chairman of the department of medicine. The entire culture at Lourdes promotes success in health care, but it starts from the top down, he says. Physicians are viewed as leaders at the hospital and are actively involved in the decision-making process. “When you have physicians leading physicians, you can never talk about costs without also talking about quality,” he says. That’s different than other hospitals where administrative decisions are typically made from nonmedical personnel who don’t know what it’s like to work with patients and families.

In addition, the hospital prides itself on its new co-management model used in cardiology that includes the 50 staff cardiologists and dozens of affiliated cardiologists allowing them to “have a key” to the cardiac service line to help them manage it along with the hospital officials. “In the past, it was the hospital running the service line, and physicians complaining about the inefficiencies. Now we’re all at the boardroom table together solving problems … together,” he says. “Frankly, in order to have a system like this, you have to have a culture of trust.”

Improved outcomes
And it’s working. When the hospital started the co-management model last year, about 77 percent of cardiovascular patients who were having a heart attack had their coronary artery opened within about 80 minutes from when they entered the hospital. Now, these same patients have that life-saving operations within 50 minutes from entering the hospital.

Not only has the model increased the quality of hospital care, but it also helps keep patients from being readmitted. The way it does this is by encouraging physicians to take full responsibility for the care of the patient after he or she leaves the hospital. “We want to make sure the patient has a soft landing wherever he or she goes,” says Blaber. That means if a patient is entering sub-acute rehabilitation, there are Lourdes doctors and nurse practitioners there waiting for them. When the patient goes home, then the physicians are ensuring the visiting nurses are fully apprised of the patient’s issues.

“If we can do [effective] things to soften their landing [out of the hospital], we’re going to decrease the time they stay in the hospital. But more importantly, we’re going to make sure they’re not bouncing back to the hospital because that is a failure,” says Blaber.

Because of this unique co-management model, the physicians are driving the entire process and consequently, the positive outcomes. They’ve set up meetings with area skilled nursing facilities to make sure the patients are going to be well cared for, and these facilities are equally interested in doing the same and working with the physician leaders.

Patient happiness
But it’s not just the patient care quality and value that emanate from Lourdes; its caring atmosphere helps draw patients from even the far-away suburbs. “A beautiful shiny building won’t cure people, but caring and skilled nurses, doctors and staff certainly go a long way toward that,” says Blaber, adding that is why Lourdes has the outstanding reputation it does in the area.

“It’s different at Lourdes,” he says with conviction, mentioning he’s worked in hospitals all across the area in his career. “People who choose to work at Lourdes believe in the mission, which is to help the underserved of our community and help those who are ill,” says Blaber, who’s been at Lourdes for 15 years. “And one thing is for sure: Happy employees make happy patients.”

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center
1600 Haddon Ave.
Camden
(856) 757-3500
LourdesNet.org

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 9 (November, 2012).
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