January 25, 2013
I am so excited about 2013. As you may or may not know, my passion is health improvement and wellness. Since 1996 when I first became a hospital administrator, I’ve been experimenting with how hospitals can be “Centers for Health” in the community. The question I am always asking (and I think many are asking) is “What is a hospital?”
In the 20th century hospitals were the homes for the care of the sick. Patients used to stay in the hospital for weeks and they were a lot less ill than they are today. Physicians used to do most of the diagnosis and treatment and patients did most of their recovery while they were in the hospital. In the 21st century, hospitals have become more of an overnight or day trip destination during someone’s healing journey. Today you can receive state-of-the-art medical care in just a few days. We often save lives and treat emergencies and injuries within a few hours. So, what else does a hospital do today other than treat the traditional inpatients?
Hospitals today encourage patients to aspire to full recovery and not be re-admitted to the hospital. Fully recovering from an illness or injury is often more possible than our patients might think! Our experts in physical, hand and occupational rehabilitation are focused on helping patients have the highest quality of life desired. This is done in a convenient, beautiful, state-of-the-art outpatient rehab center on Highway 12. Our hospital nurse case managers also help the physicians guide patients in the recovery process after being discharged from the hospital. We work to ensure that patients have what they need to heal at home.
On that note, many hospitals today help patients heal at home. Since we don’t have as much time to help with recovery during a hospital stay, we offer an incredible home care team who has won the Elite Award from Medicare for being one of the top home care agencies in the country. Nurses and Therapists visit you at home to ensure healing is progressing and they not only treat, they assess patients’ physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Their compassionate touch may be just the added support that patients need to heal faster.
Hospitals today are part of the health management systems in the community. Part of the reason I was so drawn to this hospital was that it was already helping people restore, maintain and improve their health. The doctors here in Sonoma are ahead of the curve because they treat you like family and they embrace their role as health managers who want us to be the healthiest we can be. For example, Dr. Olness was telling me that years ago he would see a diabetic patient annually and they were not very well. Today he works with his patients quarterly to keep their sugars low and often can keep people off of insulin due to patient-led health management. And he said that these patients are not getting more ill!
Hospitals today encourage health awareness. Health is often not optimal because we are unaware of our current state of health. There are a few important numbers that we should know and monitor regularly to determine if we are moving toward or experiencing optimal health. They are waist-to-hip ratio, body fat percentage, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels. So many people suffer from metabolic syndrome and/or obesity. Our weight loss support group, physicians, and nutritionists offer education and options to get these numbers in the healthy range.
Hospitals today inspire health and wellness. Health is not defined as the absence of illness. Being healthy means that you have energy throughout the day and your body feels good. If patients need some inspiration or support, we offer them the chance to e-mail our wellness coordinator and attend community classes to learn more about how easy it is to live healthy. We also offer health screenings and diagnostics because the best way to know if you are healthy (besides having good health numbers) is to check early and often for disease. We all know that after the age of 40, it is important to have baseline tests and continue with regular medical screenings. We offer digital mammography and bone density in our state-of-the-art women’s health center. Here at the hospital, we also offer screening EKGs, stress tests, colonoscopies and screening MRIs with a physician order.
Hospitals today inspire healing of the mind, body and spirit. In November we started an Integrative Health Network working with over 40 health practitioners in mental health, chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, and naturopathy. Together with community leaders Drs. Suzannah Bozzone, Patricia Brooks and Marcus Porrino, we are promoting a team approach for healing. We also offer mind, body and spirit enhancers to our patients while they are in the hospital such as natural foods, a Kindle for entertainment, a relaxation CD, and local lavender to give comfort and increase energy.
Hospitals and physicians today know that exercise is medicine! We offer a place for patients to start or resume exercise no matter what their state of health. Trained medical professionals in physical therapy are here five days a week from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. to help patients embrace the gift of exercise in a safe and comfortable environment. Our medically oriented gym is on the first floor of the hospital, and we also offer free Gentle Yoga classes and Active Aging health education seminars in our basement conference room.
So, what is a hospital today? I think it’s a Center for Health, and that is what we have here in Sonoma.
In Good Health,
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sonoma Valley Hospital