St. Luke’s foundation receives $200,000 from Duke Endowment

Published 1:55 pm Friday, December 17, 2010

St. Lukes Hospital Foundation recently announced it has received a $200,000 grant from the Duke Endowment that will be used to support the hospitals efforts for better electronic communication to improve patient care.

We are so grateful that our foundation is the recipient of a $200,000 grant from The Duke Endowment, said Meshelle Colvin, executive director of the St. Lukes Hospital Foundation.

The grant will help fund a $2.6 million capital investment that is necessary to move toward electronic medical records (EMR). EMRs have been identified as mandatory tools by the federal government to advance patient care, efficiency, productivity and safety. EMRs allow providers immediate access to and ability to share a patients important clinical information.

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Using incentives and penalties to move the nations hospitals to a paperless system, the government intends for hospitals and providers to meet certain criteria or meaningful use, within certain timeframes.

The first level providers must meet includes recording patient demographic information, vital signs and chart changes, medication and a medical allergy list. In addition, systems must be in place to protect privacy and security of the patient information along with the ability to electronically exchange key clinical information among providers.

Should the goal be met, providers receive federal stimulus incentives. Should they fail, providers will be penalized by a decrease in Medicare payments.

Polk Countys demographics show we are a mecca for retired seniors, and for St. Lukes Hospital, that means we care for a large number of Medicare recipients, said Ken Shull, St. Lukes president/chief executive officer. Actually, about 65 percent of our patients are covered by Medicare, so it behooves us to move quickly towards meaningful use so we can receive incentive payments which well use to help pay for this major capital expenditure, Shull said.

Although the hospitals financial viability has improved, we are still fragile and find it impossible to fund this computer technology without the support of our foundation, Shull said. Our information systems project is a major financial undertaking but absolutely necessary for us to provide state of the art patient care and meet compliance for EMRs as defined by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Faced with the task of meeting compliance within tight time parameters, St. Lukes has undergone a thorough assessment of its information systems and supporting equipment, installed fiber optic cable throughout the hospital campus, replaced servers and upgraded service to satellite buildings. Strategic steps also include Computers on Wheels for patient care at the bedside and desktop computers for increased access to technology and information. &bsp;

All of these advances have been made possible with funding support from several sources including The Duke Endowment and our local Polk County Community Foundation, Colvin said. To date, $582,000 has been raised for computer technology.

The EMR project, to be phased in over several years, will cost approximately $2.6 million in capital costs alone. With incentive payments and grants funding, St. Lukes Hospital expects to recover $2.3 million.