WilmingtonBiz Magazine

Health Care Trends To Watch

By Vicky Janowski, posted Jun 28, 2023
From expanding spaces to training more workers, the local health care industry continues to grow and adopt new technology aimed at better patient care. Meanwhile, challenges remain, particularly in meeting the demand for care in the growing region.

Northern New Hanover

At the end of May, Novant Health officials held a campus groundbreaking event for a long-discussed hospital in the northern part of New Hanover County.

The Scotts Hill Medical Center will be a 200,000-square-foot community hospital with a surgical focus, according to a news release. Officials expect to start site work on the 66-bed hospital this summer, with construction projected to take about two and a half years.

The new community hospital was envisioned before Novant Health bought NHRMC in 2021. The property off U.S. 17 already includes an emergency department, which will connect to the new hospital, and an outpatient surgery center.

Work at the campus also has started on a separate 60,000-square-foot medical office building intended to house outpatient care services and serve as a hub for Novant Health Cancer Institute so that nearby patients can access infusion treatments and radiation therapy without having to drive to the hospital’s main South 17th Street campus.

AI assist

As the future of artificial intelligence becomes a discussion across industries, the technology also is playing an increasing role in health care.

An AI example is with the type of imaging that depends on large amounts of data, particularly with MRIs.
In March, Wilmington Health Radiology began using AIR Recon DL software to improve image resolution and clarity without increasing scan time.

GE Healthcare launched AIR Recon DL, “a deep-learning image reconstruction technology, (that) makes full use of all the raw data coming off the MRI scanner,” according to the company.

Wilmington Health has scanned more than 1,000 patients with it for multiple areas – including patients’ brains, bodies, vascular systems and hearts.

“Along with enhancing workflow and the patient experience,” said Matt Janik, a cardiologist with Wilmington Health, “the Artist Lift Technology is the most cost-effective way to gain the benefits of a next-generation MRI system.”

Dosher’s next phase

Dosher Memorial Hospital, a critical access community hospital in Southport, is leveling up in size and fundraising.

The hospital has 25 licensed acute (inpatient) beds and 64 licensed skilled nursing center beds. Dosher officials in May announced that they are entering the first phase of the hospital’s seven-year master facility plan. 

The initial phase is expected to take about three years to complete and will include renovations and expansions to the hospital and medical clinics. Some of the construction projects are a new 8,000-square-foot emergency department, three additional provider workspaces at Dosher Medical Plaza and an expansion of the hospital’s pharmacy.

The new emergency department will increase the current treatment spaces from 10 to 14 and include the addition of six to eight vertical care chairs, to streamline wait times and care for patients of lower acuity. 

The hospital’s foundation also recently announced that it is creating an endowment investment fund to support the hospital through a steady source of income.

Rural funding

The N.C. Healthcare Foundation granted Novant Health Pender Medical Center $50,000 to support rural health services.

Funding from the foundation, the N.C. Healthcare Association’s charitable nonprofit affiliate, came from the foundation’s Rural Hospital Leadership and Workforce Development grant.

“The grant will fund more than a dozen training programs, workshops and certifications for team members at Pender Medical Center and Novant Health Home Care,” according to a news release.

One of those programs is SANE (Sexual Assault Nursing Examiner) training, “which educates nurses on performing examinations, collecting and preserving evidence and testifying in legal proceedings. Rural areas often have limited availability of nurses with SANE training or certification,” the release stated.

The foundation’s grant will pay for six nurses at Pender Medical Center, a critical access hospital in Burgaw, to receive the SANE training.

The money also will fund the National Rural Health Association’s Rural Health Nurse certification that offers educational opportunities for nurses in community hospitals.

Sleep centered

As the old adage says, sleep is the best medicine. But a published study this year found that less than a third of American adults get restorative sleep each night.

Meanwhile, the use of apps to track personal sleep habits and duration has ballooned. So more sleep-deprived people are aware that they’re not getting enough quality snooze time.

Several local business owners and health providers have started operations in the past year to attempt to address the issue. 

Pallavi Saraf, for example, opened the Wilmington-based practice Magnolia Sleep Solutions in February to focus on improving sleep through the diagnosis and treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

Saraf, who holds a doctorate in dental medicine and integrative physiology degree, became interested in the connection between her dental patients’ issues with teeth clenching and grinding to sleep quality.

She said that people with sleep apnea don’t realize they have apnea or how it can affect their overall health including cardiovascular, immune, endocrine and mental health issues.
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