Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's fiscal year 2011-12 was highlighted by new or expanded collaborations, growth in its clinical and research missions, and the presence of the first group of medical students in State College. That’s according to Dr. Harold L. Paz, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System, Penn State's senior vice president for health affairs, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine.
Paz reported to faculty, staff and community members at today’s annual public board of directors meeting that outpatient visits increased by 1.2 percent from the previous year to more than 893,500. Surgical cases were more than 27,600, up 1.8 percent, and overall hospital admissions were just over 27,000, up .7 percent from the previous year. Emergency Department visits increased by 5.5 percent to more than 64,400 during the fiscal year.
“Over the past year, Penn State Hershey continued to grow in ways that address the health needs of our region, not just through increased clinical volumes but also through new services and collaborations, education and training programs for health professionals, and community service,” Paz said. “In addition, the research we conduct has the potential to benefit people around the world, while at the same time stimulating innovation and business development in our region's economy.”
Paz reported on the continued expansion of Penn State Hershey Health System in partnership with community health care providers to ensure better access to key medical services for central Pennsylvania residents. During 2011-12, the Health System announced new affiliations with several community health care systems—Lancaster General Health for pediatric inpatient and specialty services and Carlisle Regional Medical Center, Lancaster Regional Medical Center and Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center for oncology services. Recognizing the importance of support services that help patients get the ongoing medical care they need at home, Penn State Hershey Health System joined three other health systems in ownership of Horizon Healthcare Services, an at-home infusion therapy provider.
In another form of partnership, Penn State Hershey launched LionNet, a collaboration with several community hospitals to improve stroke care in central Pennsylvania via telemedicine. The LionNet telestroke program provides real-time, remote audio-video access to a live patient consultation by a Penn State Hershey stroke neurologist or neurosurgeon, and current actual brain or vascular imaging studies can also be reviewed. (Learn more about LionNet in this video: http://goo.gl/BTrLI)
During the year, some of the 58 practice sites of the more than 900 clinician Penn State Hershey Medical Group began offering access to My Penn State Hershey Health, an online patient portal where patients can access their own health information and test results, and securely communicate with their care provider teams by e-mail. Patients at all Medical Group practices will be able to access the portal by the end of 2014.
By summer, all 13 adult primary care Medical Group sites had been awarded the highest level of patient-centered medical home (PCMH) certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This certification signifies a practice's commitment to the principles of PCMH, a new care model that promises to improve health and reduce costs by shifting from a reactive approach to a focus on long-term problems and preventative care.
Children's Hospital and related construction
In June, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital was again recognized among the best in the nation, this year in three specialties, on the U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of children's hospitals, ranking 40th in cancer, 46th in diabetes and endocrinology, and 34th in orthopedics.
Year-end also saw exciting progress on the new home of the Children's Hospital, set for a December opening. A new Support Services Building on the west side of campus opened to staff last November.
In January, Penn State Hershey launched its Institute for Personalized Medicine, one of the most promising frontiers in medicine. The institute is designed to improve patient outcomes by tailoring therapies based on an individual's genetic and biologic makeup. (For more information about the institute, watch this video: http://goo.gl/ltSa0) Two new basic science department chairs joined the faculty: James Broach became chair of Biochemistry and Microbiology in January, and Aron Lukacher became chair of Microbiology and Immunology in February.
Medical Center and College of Medicine investigators earned a record $106.9 million in external research support, including $65.2 million from National Institutes of Health.
Paz talked about welcoming 13 third-year medical students to the University Park Regional Campus of Penn State College of Medicine at the end of the fiscal year as the inaugural cohort of College of Medicine students to do their clinical training in State College. The goal of the regional campus, created in partnership with Mount Nittany Medical Center, is to help improve access to medical care in Centre County by training the next generation of health care providers, some of whom will choose to stay and practice in that community. (Learn more about the regional campus in this video: http://goo.gl/8W8JW)
In May, the College of Medicine graduated its 42nd class and awarded 131 medical degrees, 20, master of science degrees, 12 master of homeland security degrees, four master of professional studies in homeland security degrees, 28 doctorates, and two joint doctor of medicine/doctorate degrees. Of the medical class of 2012, 41 percent entered residency in primary care fields — family medicine, pediatrics, and internal medicine — and 27 percent stayed in Pennsylvania.
In December, Penn State Hershey launched the Center for the Protection of Children, a collaboration of clinicians, researchers, community organizations, and child advocates to advance the science of child protection from maltreatment.
In June, Paz announced the creation of a new role — chief community relations officer — to lead Penn State Hershey's growing number of outreach projects and initiatives. A national search to fill the position is under way.
Throughout the year, the organization coordinated with Holy Spirit Hospital and Pinnacle Health on a Community Health Needs Assessment, a series of surveys and focus groups designed to engage the community with the area's primary health care providers about the health needs of southcentral Pennsylvania residents. The survey was made public on Monday. (For more information about the Community Health Needs Assessment, watch this video: http://goo.gl/iBI9d)
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