All-weather access to healthcare

Published 12:15 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

By Ken Shull

Neither rain nor sleet nor the white snowy stuff can prevent people from needing healthcare nor stop those who provide it.

Last week was a testament to the commitment and dedication of St. Luke’s Hospital, EMS, area physicians and staff for braving dangerous conditions to keep the building warm, the patients fed, the hallways clean and the driveways clear.

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It took teamwork to keep the ER open and the OR operating; teamwork to provide post-op nursing, rehab and respiratory care; and teamwork to draw labs, take x-rays, dispense medications and provide care for our patients in the ICU, Medical-Surgical Unit and in the Center for Behavioral Medicine.

From registration staff to discharge planners and everywhere in between, St. Luke’s experienced a flurry of activity within the hospital as our beds were full during the first snow storm of the New Year.

It’s doubtful it will be our last, but it’s good to know that we have a very dedicated group of employees and physicians who stop at nothing, not even snow and ice, to provide the care and attention our patients deserve.

Another weather event — healthcare reform is also causing a flurry among our legislators.

Whether we like it or not, reform will affect healthcare delivery and, yes, reimbursement to those who provide the care.

Forecasts call for difficult Medicare cuts and bundled payments to physicians and hospitals. To help us weather the storm and provide services to our community, we created the St. Luke’s Physician Network (SLPN).

This network, a subsidiary of St. Luke’s Healthcare Inc, was created in 2008 to ensure local access to general and specialized medical services. The network now includes family practice, general surgery and advanced orthopaedic services.

Through SLPN, we will pool resources and work together for improved capabilities, efficiencies and quality through clinical integration and coordination of care.

I’m pleased to report we have expanded SLPN with the addition of two physicians. Dr. Augustus “Gus” Dozier with Holleman Surgical, and Dr. Jeff Viar with Foothills Family Medicine have joined general surgeon Jim Holleman, MD, and orthopaedic surgeon Brian Rosenberg, MD, in the local physician network.

I’ve no doubt our community will benefit from Dr. Dozier’s skills, and his patients will appreciate his gentle demeanor. Dr. Dozier brings 36 years of general surgery experience, with specialized expertise in breast health.

Dr. Viar needs no introduction in this column, but we are glad to have him join the SLPN network.

We know he’s pretty busy with Foothills Family Medicine and the Polk Wellness Center, and this affiliation will in no way affect his current practice. Dr. Viar has served Polk County for 11 years.

SLPN physicians, in conjunction with our area’s other physicians, provide excellent care to our community.

Despite the challenges we face as healthcare providers, St. Luke’s Hospital will continue to seek ways to work together for the health and welfare of Polk County.

As you can see, the healthcare industry is experiencing winds of change. Despite bad weather, busy office practices and healthcare reform, St. Luke’s Hospital will continue to serve our community with exceptional care, close to home.

St. Luke’s Hospital is a not for profit, acute care hospital affiliated with Carolinas HealthCare System of Charlotte, NC, for specialized management expertise, experience with developing strong community-based clinical services, and participation in revenue and purchasing contracts.

CHS is the largest healthcare system in the Carolinas and the third largest public system in the nation. St. Luke’s Hospital is committed to providing Exceptional Care, Close to Home.