The need for health care services continues to grow across the state, including the West Valley. And under the current recession, hospitals are being asked to do more with less.
Jon Bartlett, CEO of Arrowhead Hospital, says the health care industry is not immune to the impact of the bad economy, but he remains optimistic about the current and future state of the market.
“There are plenty of challenges, but we remain focused and disciplined,” he says.
In fact, he believes West Valley communities are home to some of the finest hospitals around, and the members of the community wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Today, people expect the very best health care outcomes, but they also demand world-class service,” Bartlett says. “It is our responsibility to meet their expectations.”
Arrowhead Hospital has been recognized with three stars in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ national database in 2007 and 2008 for its superior cardiovascular surgery outcomes.
Tom Dickson is CEO of Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, a 413-bed acute care hospital that specializes in cardiovascular care, neurology care, pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine. He says the slowing economy has actually allowed West Valley hospitals to catch up with their demands.
“Generally, the West Valley has been underserved in terms of acute care beds,” Dickson says. “Now that the economy has slowed and several hospitals have added additional beds, we are not in as critical condition as we were in recent years.”
With a recent expansion of the South Tower, which can grow to accommodate 600 beds, Dickson says his biggest challenge is retaining existing employees and recruiting additional workers to staff the additional beds and programs and services that are growing as a result of the tower.
“The most critical area of need is registered nurses,” he says. “We also have an acute shortage of physicians and other medical professions, including physical therapists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and medical technologists.”
Jo Adkins, CEO of West Valley Hospital, says the West Valley currently has an adequate amount of hospital beds, but that may not be the case for very long.
“As growth returns to the West Valley, we will need to look at growth of both beds and services,” she says. “We need to stay in touch with the communities’ needs and grow the services so that we can remain a hospital of choice.”
Meanwhile, West Valley Hospital is already very strong in a number of specialties, including its heart and vascular center, chest pain center, emergency room, electrophysiology and obstetrics. But Adkins doesn’t mince words when it comes to the challenges facing the health care industry.
“(It has) taken a large hit,” she says.
Naming two recent 5 percent budget cuts, she adds, “That has had a $3.6 million impact on West Valley Hospital alone.”
Beyond working to overcome the challenges facing the industry as a whole, the leaders of these hospitals are 100 percent dedicated to providing the superior service they believe their community members deserve.
Bartlett notes that the emergency department at Arrowhead Hospital is making a concerted effort to decrease wait times, promising that patients are seen in less than half an hour.
“Our average wait time is 19 minutes,” he says.
And while Arrowhead Hospital does have plans to expand from 220 beds to 260 within the next 18 months, Bartlett explains that he doesn’t just want to grow, he wants to make sure the hospital is getting consistently better.
Lee Peterson, CEO of Sun Health Services (formerly Sun Health Properties), which recently merged with Banner Health, agrees that providing the utmost services and results for its patients is the hospitals’ top priority.
“Banner has a best-practice strategy that is very much in line with our passion for making a difference in people’s lives,” he says.
Boswell and Del E. Webb medical centers are now Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb.
“By coming together with Banner we were able to bring some immediate technologies, such as electronic medical records, in addition to research institutes, which are such a major part of Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb, to the West Valley,” Peterson says.
With the economy putting a freeze on growth for the most part, West Valley hospitals stand poised for continued expansion. All the while, they are not taking their eyes off their mission — to provide the residents of West Valley communities with first-class services administered by highly trained and compassionate health care providers.