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Hillemeier discusses fiscal year highlighted by continued clinical growth, innovation

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center continued a trend of strong financial performance, with a fiscal year highlighted by clinical growth and innovative approaches to education, research, and patient care challenges spurred by a health care industry undergoing rapid transformation. Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, chief executive officer 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, today shared with members of the Medical Center’s Board of Directors, faculty, staff, students, special guests, and members of the community highlights of the organization’s 2013-2014 fiscal year performance.

Hillemeier reported that during fiscal year 2014, outpatient visits increased by 5.5 percent from the previous year to more than 960,000. The Medical Center saw more than 29,000 surgical cases, up 5.8 percent and following a national, industry-wide trend of many surgical procedures moving to the outpatient setting. Overall hospital admissions increased 5.1 percent from the previous year to more than 29,000. The organization finished the year with a total margin of 8.2 percent after transferring $74 million in academic support to the College of Medicine.

This success comes while health care undergoes a transformational shift—where reimbursement will soon be based on outcomes rather than on volume; where patients play a more active role in their care; where research more directly drives treatment decisions; and where partnerships become essential to address increasing competition and meet the health needs of larger, more diverse populations. Hillemeier said Penn State Hershey is in a strong position to meet these challenges, due largely to the ingenuity and innovation of more than 9,000 Penn State Hershey employees.

“As we get ready for the challenges of health care reform, as well as a changing research and academic environment, I know it is our people who will be the key to our continued success,” said Hillemeier, who became Penn State Hershey's sixth dean and CEO in July following the departure of Dr. Harold L. Paz to Aetna. “It is through their ongoing commitment that we will be able to continue to improve quality and safety, lead innovation across our missions, find ways to be more efficient and reduce unnecessary cost.”

In June 2013, Penn State Hershey launched the new Center for Enterprise Innovation to help departments, institutes and outpatient practices increase efficiency, improve patient access, find cost savings, generate new revenue and increase the value the organization provides across its services.

Since that time, the Center has trained more than 200 faculty and staff members in lean process and management principles designed to help them find ways to improve efficiency in their own parts of the organization, toward the ultimate goal of creating $125 million in cost savings and new revenue over three years.

Improving efficiency can also be accomplished through strategic partnerships, Hillemeier said, partnerships like LionNet, Penn State Hershey's telemedicine program for stroke. Launched in 2012, the program has added four new community hospitals to its network since January, bringing the total number of partner hospitals to 14. LionNet brings the resources of Penn State Hershey's comprehensive stroke center to communities across the region.

As of June, stroke experts in Hershey had performed more than 850 virtual consults and, when appropriate, had local on-site care teams administer life-saving therapies—like the clot-busting drug TPA—within a critical time window. As a result, 29 percent of ischemic strokes at member hospitals were treated with TPA—much better than the national average of 5 percent to 8 percent for community hospitals. Of those 850-plus patients, 75 percent were able to stay in their local hospital to receive care, making it more convenient, less costly and better for the patient.

In June, Penn State Hershey and Pinnacle Health announced intentions to explore the possibility of forming a new health enterprise. Hillemeier said today that the organizations remain on track to complete by late fall a definitive agreement, which will be filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the Pennsylvania Attorney General. The review process could take up to a year or longer to complete, which would make the start date for a new health enterprise sometime in early 2016. Hillemeier reported that later this week, Penn State Hershey will seek approval from the Penn State Board of Trustees to form Penn State Health, a not-for-profit legal structure that will enable various health care facilities and service providers to come together into one new health enterprise, including but not limited to Penn State Hershey and PinnacleHealth.

“By creating Penn State Health, we can enable health care organizations of various size and clinical specialization to work together as one to increase access to care, enhance quality, and manage cost over a broader geographic and population base,” Hillemeier said. “It is another important step to effectively position us for the future of health care.”


During fiscal year 2014, investigators brought in 521 new grant awards for a total of $83.4 million in external research support, including more than $54 million from the NIH. Among the important grants received this past year were:

Following remarks from Jeff Graham, a 58-year-old ALS patient from Pittsburgh and a supporter of genetic research into the disease, Hillemeier announced the launch of a new campaign, in partnership with ALS Worldwide, to raise at least $5 million to support the work of the Penn State Hershey ALS Clinic and the Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine’s ALS gene sequencing project.

Learn more about this exciting partnership that could result in new, personalized treatments for this devastating disease in this video:


In May, the College of Medicine graduated its 44th class and awarded 133 medical degrees and 67 graduate degrees. Of the medical class of 2014, 32 percent matched to residency programs in Pennsylvania, and 26 students—nearly one in five—opted to stay at Penn State Hershey for their residency training.

After more than four decades training health care professionals, making sure the curriculum and programs offered prepare these professionals to meet the demands today's and tomorrow's health care systems will place on them is a critical focus. In June, the College of Medicine welcomed its 30-member inaugural class of Physician Assistant master program students.

Also this year, the college's University Park Regional Campus reached its full complement of 24 third and fourth year medical students from Hershey who will do their clinical training at the regional campus in State College. Last October, the regional campus received a $2.5 million state grant, thanks to the leadership of Sen. Jake Corman, to support the regional campus's mission to help expand access to primary care services in the underserved rural communities surrounding State College.

Community outreach

Building on the success of the Farmers Market in Hershey, Penn State Hershey took the next step and partnered with the other major Hershey entities to launch the Hershey Community Garden. With support from the Foundation for Enhancing Communities, construction of the garden was completed last fall and the garden opened for this past spring's planting season. During the season, local gardeners cultivating the garden's 125 plots participated in fellowship events and educational sessions, helped a nearby colony of bees thrive, and donated more than 220 pounds of produce to the Hershey Food Bank.


Private support from individuals, corporations, and other community organizations is vital to allow Penn State Hershey to fulfill its important missions. In fiscal year 2014, the organization completed its For the Future campaign—chaired by Board of Directors member Dennis P. Brenckle—surpassing its $300 million goal and raising $306,476,284 in private support since 2007.

More than 407,000 donors gave more than 947,000 gifts to Penn State Hershey's effort, including more than $65 million to build the new Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. The campaign total represents gifts from a wide range of philanthropic partners, including nearly $210 million from corporations, foundations, and community organizations; more than $33 million from Penn State alumni, and more than $8 million from Penn State Hershey faculty and staff. Nearly 30 individual donors made commitments of $1 million or more, while numerous community advocates and countless young people helped to raise more than $112 million to support children's health initiatives connected with Children's Miracle Network and Four Diamonds.

At today's board meeting, Boiling Springs High School junior and Four Diamonds family member Kristen Hayes spoke about her motivation for organizing a mini-THON event at her school last year. Modeled after the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), mini-THONs at local elementary, middle, and high schools across Pennsylvania have been making a difference in the lives of childhood cancer patients and their families for the last 20 years. In just the past two years alone, the number of mini-THONs has tripled, and so has the amount of money raised to support Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.


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