Momentum 2021: Raising the bar amid a pandemic | Business

Changes in healthcare have always been a constant. Every patient has a unique need to be met and the ever-changing dynamics of our region’s population presents us with new challenges to which we must adapt. Perhaps this has never been as common as it has been in the past 12 months.

The global pandemic has impacted our entire lives in countless ways, causing us to change the way we act as a community to stay safe and open. As a healthcare system, staying agile at every moment of this public health crisis has been imperative to serve all of our patients. Of course, this type of demand long preceded COVID-19.

A year before the pandemic began, Munson Healthcare was in the early stages of a multi-year plan to transform the way healthcare is delivered in Northern Michigan. This plan focused on strategically aligning system resources, building strong partnerships, and investing in care areas to best meet the emerging needs of our community. I am proud to say that even in these unprecedented times we have made tremendous strides in increasing the level of care in our region.

Munson Healthcare’s neuroscience program expansion over the past nine months has been one of the most impactful. Since the arrival of Dr. Gary Rajah, Director of Endovascular Stroke Care, and Dr. Justine Pearl, a neurosurgery specialist with expertise in neuro-oncology, we offer care never before done in Northern Michigan. Patients who previously needed transfers to backcountry facilities can now receive the same expert care much closer to home when minutes matter. And the results so far have been impressive.

For Munson Healthcare, this was a first for this type of care. Just a few months ago, Dr. Pearl performed the first craniotomy with the patient awake at Munson Medical Center – the highest standard of care for this particular case.

Dr. Rajah performed the first thrombectomy at Munson Medical Center last fall and has since performed endovascular procedures in more than 70 stroke cases. These patients came from near Traverse City to the Keweenaw Peninsula. Given this trend, Munson Medical Center will be among the two or three busiest stroke centers in the state of Michigan. This supply saves lives and preserves the quality of life of our patients.

Building a model for rural stroke care also requires investment in the appropriate talent and technology. In October, Munson Medical Center was the first in Michigan – and one of only seven hospitals in the United States – to feature the state-of-the-art ARTIS Icono double-decker angiography system. The installation of a second double decker, slated for later this year, will allow us to increase our patient care capacity and our commitment to high levels of care that will help us continue to be top doctors in the area recruit, strengthen.

We continue to improve the level of care and services we provide to our communities by aligning and building strong partnerships with the best in our industry. Munson Medical Center entered into such an inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation partnership with Mary Free Bed two years ago. By leveraging their 130 years of experience in this particular area, the continuous care of our patients is improved, while at the same time ensuring that we use our resources as a system optimally.

In Traverse City, our partnership with Mary Free Bed has helped countless patients recover from surgery, strokes, heart attacks, trauma, and other injuries. It offers many the opportunity to relieve their pain through physical therapy. The Foster Family Community Health Center can offer outpatient pediatric rehab services, including a new therapeutic playground that was installed this summer. Rehabilitation services at the Cowell Family Cancer Center also create an environment where providers and clinicians can work directly together to provide the best options for every patient in need of cancer treatment.

The benefits Munson Healthcare patients have received from this relationship with Mary Free Bed are obvious. Now we have extended this rehabilitation services partnership to Cadillac and Grayling.

Regardless of the industry, companies that understand their core strengths, partner with strategic partners to apply best practices and responsibly manage their resources are often the most successful. Munson Healthcare is dedicated to each of these principles to provide the best possible service to our patients and continue to build a world-class model for rural health care delivery.

Ed Ness is President and CEO of Munson Healthcare.

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