Taylorville Memorial Hospital offers its patients the best of both worlds, according to the nonprofit hospital’s president and CEO, Kim Bourne.
Many of Taylorville Memorial’s 320 employees live in the community and “provide a level of compassion and empathy difficult to replicate in a larger hospital environment,” said Bourne, who’s been on the job as the hospital’s chief executive officer since January 2015.
“It’s a great advantage many larger hospitals don’t have – our caregivers are part of the community we serve,” she said. “Our employees understand the background, the community and the challenges of our patients because they are our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, our kids’ teachers or pastors.”
But, as part of Memorial Health System based in Springfield, the rural hospital is also able to draw on the resources of a larger healthcare system.
“It is difficult for smaller rural hospitals to have the right resources and sophistication to survive – let alone thrive in today’s healthcare environment,” Bourne said. “We are proud of our heritage and history from the original St. Vincent’s to Taylorville Memorial. But our affiliation with Memorial Health System has been vital. It allows us to save money through purchasing and other contracts, but we still have local governance and a local board for most decisions. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Small and rural hospitals face unique challenges. Most struggle with declining populations and treat a larger proportion of patients over 65 with fewer local doctors.
According to the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, nearly 40 percent of Illinois hospitals operate at a financial loss and another 7.6 percent operate on a very slim positive operating margin.
Bourne points to TMH’s ability to use Memorial Health System’s expertise and resources in areas like training and certifications, information technology, finance, legal, human resources, public relations and other specialized areas as an advantage in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.
Bourne is well-acquainted with those resources having spent 25 years at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield before taking the helm of TMH as president and CEO. She said she quickly came to appreciate the hospital’s unique role in the community.
The hospital is the second largest employer in Christian County. Low turnover and high employee engagement means most employees make a career there.
Those employees help create an atmosphere that provides patients and their families with a comfortable setting and the highest of standards, which, in turn, has led to high patient satisfaction scores, Bourne said.
She also cites Memorial’s national reputation for excellence in patient care and quality standards as a guiding force in TMH’s pursuit of best outcomes in patient care.
“Our first imperative is to keep patients safe,” Bourne said. “We are proud of our extremely low incidence of hospital-acquired infections. We have also added new hospital beds and alarms to assist staff in responding to and preventing falls and injury.”
One continuing challenge is physician recruitment, which mirrors another trend with Illinois small and rural hospitals. Bourne notes that approximately one-third of U.S. physicians will retire in the next decade. That is complicated by the fact that many remaining doctors are headed into higher paying specialty practices rather than practicing in health clinics.
TMH partners with Springfield Clinic and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine to bring doctors to the hospital so that patients don’t have to travel to Springfield to receive care. She said the hospital is exploring other ways to bring more doctors to Taylorville by identifying clinical partners to improve the area’s access to care.
As a result of the partnership with Springfield Clinic, the TMH JointWorks program just welcomed Dr. Piero Capechi, an orthopedic surgeon, to the team that offers a comprehensive joint replacement program including consultation, surgery, rehabilitation and follow-up for knee and hip replacements.
Other beneficial programs at TMH include Senior Life Solutions, which helps seniors cope with anxiety, depression and grief through a comprehensive program that combines group therapy with customized approaches.
A best kept secret, according to Bourne, is TMH’s “swing bed” program. If a patient needs time to recover from a surgery, illness or injury after discharge from any acute hospital care, the program provides recovery options in a private room with access to high-quality nursing care and evidence-based therapies.
“Our swing bed program offers intensive rehabilitation, IV antibiotics, a doctor on-site 24 hours a day and all with a private room,” Bourne said. “If we need a rapid response, our emergency department doctor is here. We offer full X-ray and lab services, physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy and more.”
Plus, family and friends can check on their loved one during a lunch hour or before or after work, Bourne said.
“Visitors don’t have to stay here all day long,” she said. “It’s a different environment than a larger hospital.”
That environment makes all the difference to the people who call Taylorville home. Bourne understands that visiting the hospital can be stressful – whether it’s being admitted or coming in for an outpatient test. But she believes that TMH offers an atmosphere that welcomes instead of overwhelms.
“We want this to be a really easy place to receive quality care,” Bourne said. “From ease in parking to coming in the front door and finding out where you need to go, we pride ourselves on providing a great experience with the highest of standards in patient care and comfort. That’s just who we are.”