The Woodward News

April 9, 2013

Health care big topic at chamber luncheon

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Health care was the focus of the April monthly Woodward Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at the Pioneer Room on Monday.

Woodward Regional Hospital CEO Dave Wallace addressed the crowd of local business leaders to share how the health center seeks to be the “Hospital of Choice” for area residents.

In order to achieve that designation, Wallace said his facility operates with 3 main goals in mind: to be a great place for employees to work, a great place for physicians and providers to practice medicine and a great place for patients to receive “quality and compassionate care.”

He said the hospital has made great strides over the past few years to improve its staff satisfaction. In those efforts, he said it was discovered that there was a correlation between staff satisfaction and staff turnover.

“In 2008, we had 36 percent turnover, and we were using a lot of agency staff,” Wallace said.

But now the hospital employees 260 workers, all of which are full employees of the hospital, and not personnel from outside agencies. He said the hospital hasn't used any agency staff in 17 months and has been able to eliminate many of the major staff vacancies. And in 2012, the turnover rate was only 13 percent.

And with this more stable and settled workforce, the CEO said that employee's satisfaction ratings have improved.

“As our turnover has gone down, employee satisfaction has gone up,” he said, noting that “In 2012, over half of our employees were very satisfied.”

That satisfaction rating is even higher among the hospital's physicians group, with Wallace saying he received 100 percent of responses as “very satisfied” in the 2012 physician satisfaction survey.

While those satisfaction surveys seem to show that the hospital is meeting its goal of being a great place to work and practice medicine, the CEO implied that a look at how busy the hospital is will show that it's a great place to receive care.

In 2012, he said the hospital had 1,595 patients admitted for care, which was a 13 percent growth over the previous year. The ER staff saw a 17 percent growth in patient visits, he said.

And those were some of the smaller growth areas for the hospital. In 2012, the hospital's surgical staff performed over 2,000 surgeries in all specialties, which was a 31 percent growth year-to-year. Then in obstetrics, Wallace said Woodward Regional Hospital helped bring 267 babies into the world last year, which was a 66 percent increase.

But the area that saw the biggest increase, he said, was by far the hospital's physical, occupational and speech therapy team. With over 7,532 office visits last year, he said the therapy team saw a 442 percent increase in patient visits.

“We're rewarding them with a new location on Oklahoma Avenue. So be watching for an open house and ribbon cutting to be held soon,” Wallace said.

Being such a busy facility, the CEO said the hospital is continually focused on growing its staff and recruiting more doctors to meet the increasing amount of patient care needs.

He said his recruitment team is dedicated to “getting the very best candidates who understand the lifestyle here.”

For instance, he discussed a Dr. Laci Waner who recently spent 2 weeks as part of Woodward's obstetrics team while she finishes her family practice residency.

Waner, he said, was such a highly qualified candidate that she received 8 different employment offers, but in the end chose Woodward Regional Hospital.

He then shared a short video of Waner sharing her views on Woodward's hospital in her own words.

In the video, she talks about how welcome she and her family were made to feel when visiting Woodward for interviews. She then spoke about how she felt as if she could fit in at Woodward Regional Hospital.

“Their vision for a hospital seemed to match up with my vision for medicine and what I want my practice to be,” she said.

Wallace then encouraged Chamber members to come and visit the hospital and see that vision for themselves.

“Since a lot of times we don't need the hospital, our perception of the hospital might be 2, 3, 4, or 5 years old,” depending on how long it has been since you had a reason to visit the hospital, Wallace said.

“Come take a tour, we want to show you around and show you how we've grown,” he said.

He then ended his presentation by sharing the economic impact of the hospital on the Woodward community. Between the amount the hospital spent in payroll and benefits, taxes, uncompensated care, capital equipment purchases, and local expenses in 2012, along with a $50,000 contribution to the Red Cross, Wallace said that Woodward Regional Hospital had a total impact of around $27.5 million in 2012 alone.

Following the CEO's presentation, Chamber members heard from Patti Davis, of the Oklahoma Hospital Association.

Davis spoke about the Affordable Care Act and why she believed that Gov. Mary Fallin should change her mind and agree to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid. She noted that 8 other Republican governors who were originally against taking the federal money have since changed their minds.

Davis said that federal funding to expand Medicaid would not only help provide more subsidies for low income residents who can't afford health care, but also go toward helping offset millions in spending cuts being faced by hospitals around the state.

In addition, Davis said that by using the federal funds to invest in health care, the state would be investing back into its own economy.

“When you put money into health care, there's going to be a significant economic impact,” she said.

The reason is because with more money, hospitals and other health care businesses can hire more people and “health care jobs are some of the highest paying,” she said.

With more people making bigger paychecks, that means more money being spent at Oklahoma stores and thus more sales tax revenue, Davis said. These sales tax receipts would be a “great offset” to any expenses the state would face in completing the Medicaid expansion, she said.

Furthermore, Davis said she feels the public should consider investing in health care just as important as investing in defense or transportation improvements.

“If this were for defense, we would say it was a grand thing. If it were for roads and bridges, we would say it was a grand thing. I think we should be saying that health care is a grand thing,” she said.