How has Dosher Memorial Hospital’s sound financial strategy pre-pandemic impacted their ability to navigate the economic impact of COVID-19?
Our focus at Dosher prior to the impact of the pandemic was, and continues to be: To provide exceptional patient care, to make sure employees have a great place to work, and to increase revenue so that Dosher can remain financially stable and viable. Initiatives taken to increase the efficiency of our operating rooms and our revenue cycle have helped us navigate the economic impact of what has been a challenging year for healthcare organizations across the US.
While the COVID-19 public health emergency has caused many healthcare organizations to struggle, how has Dosher Memorial Hospital been able to thrive and grow?
Collaboration has always been at the epicenter of our success. Our ability to thrive during COVID is rooted in a 90 year history of staff, volunteers, doctors, trustees, and members of our community working together to ensure the establishment of the hospital in 1930 and to support its growth, making a heartfelt investment in the patients we treat while always seeking ways we can be even better at what we do. New programs, equipment, and technology have allowed us to evolve, but we have always prioritized humanizing healthcare as much as we do modernizing it. Throughout the pandemic, our staff has been extremely adaptable to changes we’ve made in operations and heightened safety measures. Our community has rallied for us through donations of meals, masks, and monetary contributions. A caring community, a committed staff, and service lines that fit the demographic of local residents, such as cardiac rehab, wound care, stroke and total joint replacement rehabilitation, lymphedema management, and diabetes education, have all contributed to keeping Dosher financially viable.
How has your staff and services expanded to meet the needs of the community?
We have expanded our medical staff this year, bringing on two additional family medicine physicians, one on Oak Island and one in Southport. We have welcomed a new gynecologist to the staff as well as a new general surgeon who, in addition to performing a wide breadth of general surgeries, specializes in endoscopic and advanced minimally invasive procedures. Our Wound Care Center, which has won several awards for patient satisfaction and a high outcome rate, has expanded in space and hours to meet a growing need for this type of specialized treatment. The recent relocation of our Urgent Care clinic to the Dosher Wellness Center includes expanded hours, so that people who need an after work appointment will be able to seek treatment on weekdays through 6:30 pm.
How has Dosher Memorial Hospital’s existing telehealth program met the demand for telemedicine in the current environment?
Telemedicine has been a part of our hospital’s in-patient service for hospitalist and specialty needs and is also used for psychiatrist visits in the Emergency Department. In order to deliver primary care safely since the onset of the pandemic, telemedicine was implemented at our clinics the end of March, when stay-at-home orders were instituted. The Dosher primary care network was able to use our existing Electronic Medical Record, which had a platform for telehealth. By using our existing EMR, we were able to employ telehealth visits quickly for our clinic patients, while also having access to their medical record and completing documentation, including billing, during the visit. Having an all in one option was a great choice for our providers and patients so that it streamlined the process for quality care.
What plans does Dosher Memorial Hospital have post-pandemic for continuing to provide a progressive, positive patient experience while maintaining a sound business model?
Part of providing a progressive, positive patient experience is giving our community the tools to improve their health before they develop chronic conditions or face medical emergencies. The formation of the Brunswick Wellness Coalition, of which Dosher is a founding partner, provides educational programs and support, such as walking programs, health screenings, and nutrition talks, to help local residents embrace a healthier lifestyle. The Coalition remains active during COVID-19 to support the more than 40 community nonprofit partners. The Dosher Foundation was the recipient of a $40,000 COVID-19 response grant from the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation, half of which will be managed by the Brunswick Wellness Coalition in order to fund wellness kits for local churches, which will include necessary technology for members to connect to healthcare providers for telemedicine visits. Equally important to investing in our community and patients is investing in our staff. Ensuring a sound business model begins with empowered employees, who feel cared for, supported, and seen. Additional COVID-19 grant funds were allotted for the Dosher employee assistance fund. We’ve allowed employees to cash out on paid time off to help with COVID-19 hardship and have offered support for the management of stress and anxiety with qualified clinicians, free of charge. The recent formation of an employment engagement committee, suggestion boxes, and extended hours in HR help ensure that our employees are given a voice and also recognized for their accomplishments.