by Robert Kimmel
In assessing the past year at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, its President and CEO Daniel Blum had a good number of successes to report. The account of those achievements came recently at the Hospital’s Annual Community Breakfast at the DoubleTree Hotel, attended by local political and business leaders.
Blum noted that a recent statewide hospital survey of patients’ satisfaction resulted in Phelps’ placement in the 96 percentile. “That means that with over 225 hospitals in New York State, only four percent of the hospitals received patient satisfactory scores better than Phelps,” Blum explained. “We have made tremendous progress,” he added, while crediting the hospital’s staff for its part in that attainment.
The hospital is quite selective in hiring its medical force, according to Blum. “We hire about 10% of those who submit applications seeking jobs; we are very choosy. We engage in a lot of education internally trying to develop a certain kind of culture,” he said, adding that, “We have become a much more sophisticated organization.”
Among its other accomplishments in 2016, Phelps has been designated as a “Baby-Friendly” hospital, Blum stated. A world-wide program, it signifies that Phelps provides top care and support for new mothers. Phelps is among 18 hospitals in New York State which have that label, and is the second to attain it in the Hudson Valley. Throughout the nation, 420 hospitals and birthing centers have it. A four-year pursuit at the hospital in Sleepy Hollow earned the designation.
Blum also described the hospital as having twice passed what were termed “rigorous and unannounced inspections.” The initial inspection was by the federal government Joint Commission which accredits thousands of hospitals and healthcare program facilities nationwide. “They come in for a surprise inspection once every three years, scour the hospital, its medical records and engage staff members,” he said.
“They go into the operating room and with gloves wipe surfaces and check sanitary conditions,” Blum noted. “The standards are phenomenal, and it one of the most thorough surveys that Phelps has gone through. It is a strong validation of quality, a measure of operational performance. You can’t cram for the test,” he added.
That inspection, Blum said, was followed by another surprise survey visit, this time by the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which does a random sampling of hospitals. The results were termed “exceptional.”
“The Phelps Board has a sense of mission and purpose of treating our patients as a whole,” Blum commented. He noted that the hospital serves a “challenging population…in large measure a charity population…and many services are not compensated.” He mentioned the hospital as “bringing in people for health education.”
The hospital’s latest achievement came last month when its Hyperbaric Medicine Department received Accreditation with Distinction for its program from the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society. Phelps’ claims the largest state-of-the-art hyperbaric chamber in the northeast. The department’s initial four-year accreditation came in 2013.
Another point of progress, is the establishment at Phelps of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute, which will offer comprehensive cancer services, from prevention, and diagnosis to a variety of treatments. Much of the expansion of resources at Phelps has been attributed to its becoming, in January 2015, part of Northwell Health, the largest provider of health services in New York State.
The non-profit hospital has undertaken medical equipment advances over the past year or so, with an additional focus on technology, according to Blum. He described new CAT scan equipment and the purchase of the da Vinci Xi Surgical System, a robotic apparatus that offers major progress in minimally invasive surgery. “The hospital is also in the process of installing a very hi-tech radiology lab,” Blum related.
During the past year, 88 “carefully selected” physicians have been added to the hospital’s medical staff, and its outreach has expanded to 15 locations in the community, according to Blum.
The hospital’s president was careful to avoid commenting about the political healthcare issues that have been the focus of disputes in Washington; however, when asked, Blum said that the Affordable Care Act was better than the proposed, revised legislation that did not pass Congress in terms of the hospital’s accessibility for all who needed healthcare. He emphasized; however, that regardless of whatever legislation prevails, Phelps would continue to provide care for those in need.