LAURINBURG — Scotland Health Care System served more patients in 2015, the system’s leaders reported on Thursday, opening new practices and contributing to the community — all while running a “lean” operating strategy.
Mike Vinson, chairman of the system’s board of directors, detailed the board’s focus to more than 80 people on Thursday night during Scotland Health Care System’s annual community meeting at the W.R. Dulin Conference Center on the Scotland Memorial Hospital campus.
That focus shifted more than ever last year to ensuring the longevity of the system in an unpredictable industry and challenging local economy. That means being guided by consumers’ increasing interest in convenient, accessible, cost-effective health care, officials said.
“In 2015, our board took that responsibility extremely seriously and radically altered the fundamental tenets of our purpose and our role,” said Vinson. “The first thing we did was to spend time formalizing our beliefs about the future of health care.”
In the last year, the system has grown to add Laurinburg Urology, Women’s Health Center of the Carolinas, and the Marlboro Medical Complex in Bennettsville, South Carolina.
In fiscal 2015, the hospital’s emergency department saw 14 percent more patients than in the prior year, with 54,099 visits, seven percent of which were admitted. Inpatient discharges, at 5,075, went up 2 percent. The hospital totaled 23,306 inpatient days.
The health care system’s primary care practices saw 46,689 patients, an increase of 4 percent. Surgical clinics saw 10,135 patients and obstetrician and gynecologist visits jumped by 16 percent to 4,387.
Scotland Health Care System also received top scores in national rankings, including Joint Commission success and placing at the top of Carolina Health Care System hospitals in Medicare’s Value Based Purchasing program.
“It used to be that value in medicine was when a doctor came to your house with a black bag, dispensed whatever medicine you needed or took your tonsils out on the kitchen table, and left with a chicken under his arm,” said chief of staff Stephen Lanuti.
“Nowadays, value is patient outcomes with patient safety plus patient experience, however you measure that, divided by the cost of care.”
The largest private employer in Scotland County, the system employs more than 1,000 people and hired 137 last year — most notably pediatrician Freda Singletary, a county native.
Singletary joined the Purcell Clinic last year after completing medical training at Howard University College of Medicine and residency at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, in the hope of inspiring the children she serves.
“Maybe some other child will say I want to be a doctor, too, and know that you can still do it with a wonderful public school education and a great supportive community,” she said. “I want them to see that it’s fun to be a doctor, it’s fun to help others when they’re not feeling good, it’s awesome to do good in school, and that’s really what I try to do every day.”
Treasurer David Harling broke down the system’s revenue streams, 46 percent of which stem from Medicare, 23 percent from Medicaid, 23 percent from commercial insurers, and 8 percent from self-pay patients.
The health care system’s community benefit totaled $18 million between bad debt and the cost of serving the uninsured, charity care, Medicare and Medicaid losses, and in-kind donations.
“We are a not-for-profit hospital, and to do that we have to justify our charity to the community,” said Harling. “We do a lot of things for a lot of people and we don’t necessarily get paid to do them. It’s just part of our role in sharing what we have with our community.”
System CEO Greg Wood reported on his reevaluation of existing management practices. Adhering to the “lean” system, readmission rates are down 30 percent, staff collaboration is on the rise, fewer physicians are taking home large workloads, and patient experience is improving.
“I hope you know that the support you continue to provide Scotland Health Care System is allowing us to make a difference and ensure that you, your friends, your neighbors, people you don’t even know in the communities we serve, are certain to receive safe and high-quality and compassionate health care from a system that is very sustainable for the long run,” Wood said.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.