Mount Carmel Health System

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Mount Carmel at Columbus Business First Health Care Heroes Awards
Start Date
07/12/2013
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Mount Carmel was well represented at the Columbus Business First Health Care Heroes Awards. The awards recognize those who have made a positive impact on the central Ohio community through health care. Mount Carmel earned recognition in three of the five categories and had six total finalists. Below are the stories of the honorees.

Health Care Heroes: Janet Meeks, Mount Carmel St. Ann's

Melissa Kossler Dutton | For Business First

Janet Meeks started her career in banking and finance.

But a personal tragedy in the early 1980s set the president and chief operating officer of Mount Carmel St. Ann’s on another career path.

Meeks gave birth to a child who died shortly afterward.

“It was such a horrific experience, but the people who took care of me – the way they took care of me – it was something I couldn’t forget,” she recalled.

The experience made Meeks want to dedicate herself to helping others with same compassion she received. So just four months after the tragedy, she took a job at the same medical center where she was treated.

Service is a philosophy that continues to shape Meeks’ leadership style. It’s also one she regularly shares with the staff and volunteers at the hospital. She took the helm of the 270-bed, full-service Catholic hospital in 2006. The staff includes 1,900 associates, 500 physicians and 300 volunteers.

Meeks takes the time to meet with every batch of new hires during their orientation. She chats with each individual, shares the story of why she works in health care and asks whether they consider their job a calling or “just a job.”

Employees must have “passion of purpose,” she said. “We have to rise above the normal every single day.”

Meeks also believes in seeking out successes and rewarding those who go above and beyond the call of duty.

When she first joined Mount Carmel, Meeks initiated a program to recognize employees for going the extra mile. Every month, Meeks hand-writes letters to associates thanking them for their efforts.

“People want to know that they are making a difference,” Meeks said.

Meeks works tirelessly to let staff and patients know they matter, wrote Dr. Martha Reigel in a letter to Business First nominating Meeks for a Health Care Hero award.

“Her commitment is manifested in her constant efforts to educate staff on service excellence to our patients, and to her modeling those behaviors on her frequent rounds in the hospital,” Reigel wrote. “She holds everyone accountable to high standards, but she also continually leads in celebrating the great things that happen in our hospital.”

Meeks is seen as a mentor and coach at the hospital, which sees 18,000 admissions annually. She has started Campus Leadership Councils designed to empower leaders and assure accountability for results. She also enjoys shadowing employees and stopping by staff meetings to stay engaged with associates.

Meeks’ efforts have met success. St. Ann’s has seen tremendous growth in recent years. In 2006, the hospital had a net operating margin of $3 million. By 2011, the net operating margin had grown to $39 million.

The president led expansion of regional orthopedic and cardiovascular services by recruiting new physician groups. She also helped the hospital earn a Level III NICU designation, which means the hospital can care for smaller and sicker babies.

Meeks also has overseen a $110 million expansion at St. Ann’s since 2010. Project Grace will add many features to the hospital, including the ability to perform open-heart surgery.

Meeks also works within the Westerville community to promote good causes. Under her leadership, the hospital provided the seed money to start a summer lunch program for children in need.

Meeks’ passion for promoting health and wellness in Westerville is inspiring, wrote Mike Ronau in a letter to Business First.

“She helps inspire all of us to work each day to deliver high-quality care to our patients and improve the health of the individuals of our communities,” he wrote.

Health Care Heroes: Khalilah LaRue and LaDonya Brady, Outreach Mobile Coach

Melissa Kossler Dutton | For Business First

While providing free medical care to underserved and homeless individuals, Mount Carmel Health System medical providers saw another need that wasn’t being met.

They realized many of their patients also were dealing with mental health conditions.

They began looking for ways to offer mental health services while providing medical care on the health system’s Outreach Mobile Coach, a 40-foot urgent care center on wheels. The coach serves people who are uninsured, unable to pay medical copays or living in shelters or on the streets.

In 2010, the hospital created a partnership with Southeast Inc., a mental health services provider that treats patients regardless of their economic status.

Mental health workers from Southeast now serve at mobile coach sites.

The partnership has made a big difference for many patients, said LaDonya Brady, manager of community outreach for the mobile coach. Often, homeless individuals have a mental health condition that contributed to their homeless status or current physical condition.

Addressing their mental health issues means patients can better grasp what they need to do to stay physically healthy, Brady said. It leads to better patient outcomes, she said.

When the mental health care is in place, patients can address other chronic illnesses. They also are more receptive to messages about healthy lifestyles. The coaching staff tries to educate patients about nutrition and help them stop smoking.

“Getting mental health care to deal with depression or bipolar disorder helps them deal with other things more effectively,” said Brady, who is a nurse.

The Southeast staff members usually are well received by patients because the clients already have a rapport with Mount Carmel and the mobile coach, she said.

“They trust us,” she said. “They know we care about them.”

That relationship makes them more open to receiving mental health treatment, Brady said.

“We can open the door,” she said. “It’s a nice hand-off.”

Once clients are referred, Southeast will assess them and sometimes prescribe medication, said Khalilah LaRue, a psychiatric nurse practitioner with the mobile coach. Patients also receive appropriate referrals for follow-up care and are connected to a medical home.

“We actually have medicine on site,” she said. “We can give it to them right there and then.”

Southeast also offers case management and social services, she said.

“It’s amazing when we are able to see a client, prescribe medicine and also help them with the goals they have,” LaRue said.

Agency practitioners see about 61 patients each month. They typically add 12 new patients per month. Practitioners annually have more than 700 patient encounters related to their work on the coach.

Mount Carmel staff work hard to coordinate efforts to provide care to vulnerable residents of the community, wrote Sandra Stephenson, director of integrated health care for Southeast.

“Mount Carmel provides leadership to build partnerships that multiply services and supports for people in need,” she wrote in a letter supporting the hospital in its nomination for a Health Care Hero award. “We are grateful to Mount Carmel Health System for their leadership with providing health care services for homeless and highly vulnerable individuals and families in Columbus.”

Health Care Heroes: Dr. Thomas Salamon, Mount Carmel Health System

Craig Lovelace | For Business First

Although Dr. Thomas Salamon says the newest technology in heart surgery needs time to grow up, he is excited about what a process called transcatheter aortic valve replacement already can do for his patients.

“Boy, the technology is really neat and it works,” said Salamon, a cardiothoracic surgeon and medical director at Mount Carmel East Heart Center.

The technology gives physicians another option when replacing heart valves in patients too sick or frail for open-heart surgery, which has been the standard treatment method. The program uses stents and catheters that are inserted through the leg or rib to treat valvular heart disease.

Mount Carmel has used the program since 2012 – the FDA approved it in 2011.

“This has helped cardiac patients in general more than people know,” Salamon said.

The physician is credited with leading the effort to bring the valve replacement program to the health system. Mount Carmel was one of several hospitals chosen for clinical trials in 2011, which were championed by Salamon.

“Dr. Salamon’s efforts to bring TAVR to Mount Carmel has been a game changer” said Dr. Richard Streck, the system’s chief clinical operations officer and executive vice president.

Salamon sloughs off accolades and attributes success with transcatheter aortic valve replacement to the collaborative approach his team takes in treating patients. It goes over well with team members, who say the physician is always well prepared.

“I think I can count on one hand the number of times that I have delivered information to him about one of his patients that he didn’t already know. And, that was only because he was scrubbed in the operating room at the time,” said Chad Clark, a transcatheter aortic valve replacement program coordinator.

– Craig Lovelace

Although Dr. Thomas Salamon says the newest technology in heart surgery needs time to grow up, he is excited about what a process called transcatheter aortic valve replacement already can do for his patients.

“Boy, the technology is really neat and it works,” said Salamon, a cardiothoracic surgeon and medical director at Mount Carmel East Heart Center.

The technology gives physicians another option when replacing heart valves in patients too sick or frail for open-heart surgery, which has been the standard treatment method. The program uses stents and catheters that are inserted through the leg or rib to treat valvular heart disease.

Mount Carmel has used the program since 2012 – the FDA approved it in 2011.

“This has helped cardiac patients in general more than people know,” Salamon said.

The physician is credited with leading the effort to bring the valve replacement program to the health system. Mount Carmel was one of several hospitals chosen for clinical trials in 2011, which were championed by Salamon.

“Dr. Salamon’s efforts to bring TAVR to Mount Carmel has been a game changer” said Dr. Richard Streck, the system’s chief clinical operations officer and executive vice president.

Salamon sloughs off accolades and attributes success with transcatheter aortic valve replacement to the collaborative approach his team takes in treating patients. It goes over well with team members, who say the physician is always well prepared.

“I think I can count on one hand the number of times that I have delivered information to him about one of his patients that he didn’t already know. And, that was only because he was scrubbed in the operating room at the time,” said Chad Clark, a transcatheter aortic valve replacement program coordinator.

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Mount Carmel Health System  |  Columbus, Ohio

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