This post is the first installment in a new series we’re calling Profiles in Partnership, which highlights the benefits of a partnership and the many ways these shared relationships with client hospitals embody our core values of agility, courage, collaboration, and respect.

Managing our partner hospitals' EM and HM departments isn't just a job for Schumacher Clinical Partners and its providers. Instead, it is a calling and a mission to which every member is dedicated: providing the highest-quality care to patients.

A notable example in which that commitment to caring is demonstrated is our partnership with St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City, Missouri, where we manage the hospital medicine program and have since December 2012. (St. Mary's is part of SSM Health, a Catholic not-for-profit health system headquartered in St. Louis.)

The health system was founded in 1872 by five Catholic sisters based on a principle they called the "healing power of presence."

The hospital’s website explains it this way:

"Taking time to listen, learn, and understand patients is at the heart of everything we do. We know people are not meant to be alone. We are meant to be there for each other to bond... to love, connect, console, and celebrate family, friends, and future. We are meant to share each other's joys and comfort each other's sorrows."

St. Mary's motto is also born out of that founding principle. It says, "The better we know you as a person, the better we can treat you as a patient."

That attitude toward personalized care was vividly illustrated last year through the actions of Chad P. Zeglis, M.D., a hospital medicine physician and SCP provider. During his shift in December 2017, Dr. Zeglis met with an elderly patient who had just undergone surgery for esophageal cancer to discuss options related to his care. The conversation took a different turn, however, when the patient shared some pressing concerns about the outlook for his future.

"Doc, could you just do as little as possible because right now I feel terrible and I know that I don't have many days left," the patient said. "I want a hot shower, I don't want any other surgeries and I just want to be comfortable. Can we do that?"

The patient also asked Dr. Zeglis if he could help him live through Christmas. "I would hate to have my family remember every Christmas that it was when I died," he said.

Dr. Zeglis listened carefully to the patient’s concerns, explained some treatment options that could help — giving units of blood and prescribing pain meds — and promised the man that he could lay comfortably in bed, shower whenever he wanted, and that no more tests would be administered. "We will keep you running without making you uncomfortable," Dr. Zeglis said, reassuringly.

According to the patient's son, his father closed his eyes to rest and "had a big smile on his face," the first he had seen since his father’s condition worsened two weeks earlier.

Recounting the experience, the son said, "Dr. Zeglis listened to my father [and] cared enough to do his best to honor the few comfort requests of my dad. He couldn't heal him, but he did give him quality in the last days of his life."

(The patient was discharged to a skilled nursing facility and did, indeed, live through Christmas; he passed away in January of this year.)

Based on that interaction, the patient's son nominated Dr. Zeglis for the Values in Action Award, which SSM Health gives to employees and medical staff who exemplify "exceptional actions taken towards patients, visitors, physicians, and co-workers in the spirit of the health system's mission."

Dr. Zeglis's experience illustrates the kind of caring attitude St. Mary's patients have come to expect from all the hospital’s providers and staff. It is also an example of excellence in patient satisfaction, a standard that both SCP and St. Mary's strives to achieve in every patient encounter.

In an interview with SCP, Felixia Colón, regional vice president for SCP's hospital medicine division and on-site regional operating officer at St. Mary's, said, "St. Mary's is an ideal Schumacher partner. If challenged one month with HCAHPS scores, they are in lock-step with us to focus on improving scores. The hospital includes SCP every step of the way. They don't do patient care in a bubble but in a true spirit of partnership." 

Colón emphasized that the staff at St. Mary's doesn't just care for patients with a view toward improving HCAHPS scores, however, but truly engages with them using the same "healing power of presence" principle on which the hospital was founded. "St. Mary's takes a decidedly patient-centered approach to all they do," she said.

Embodies Shared Core Values

Not only did Dr. Zeglis's experience serve as an example of excellent patient satisfaction, but it also embodies a core value shared by both organizations: respect.

For SCP and St. Mary's alike, "respect" means providing care personalized to each of our patient's needs — a task not easily accomplished in an era where evidence-based standardized care plans prevail.

For example, providing personal care is why St. Mary's has decentralized nursing units rather than one central nurses’ station. Nurses can take notes and input orders on a computer located either in or just outside the room, enabling them to spend more time with each patient.

It's also the reason we encourage our providers to spend time with EM and HM department medical directors. Dr. Zeglis, who was just out of residency when he started at St. Mary’s, spent several months in rotation with the medical director where he benefited from ongoing leadership support. That mentoring opportunity helped influence his ability to relate to his patient in a way that showed deep respect and caring.

The emphasis on achieving excellence in patient satisfaction, the philosophy of providing personalized patient-centered care, and demonstration of genuine respect for patients, evidenced by Dr. Zeglis's example, is why we are proud to partner with St. Mary's Hospital.

If those values are important to your facility, why not work with an EM/HM healthcare management company that shares them? Contact a member of our business development team to learn more about the partnership opportunities we have to offer.