Healthcare Close to Home
Q&A with Chris Dorman
SGaMag: During your first few months as CEO what have you identified as the hospital’s greatest strengths and challenges?
Dorman: Tift Regional Health System has a reputation as an innovative healthcare provider, and I discovered the reason why—it’s people.
Tift Regional has talented employees, both clinical and non-clinical, as well as a topnotch medical staff. We also have a forward-thinking and progressive board of trustees who help steer the direction of the organization. With our superb staff, physicians, strategic board, and supportive community, Tift Regional is fortunate to be a financially-solid medical institution, which allows us to invest into the future and keep pace with changing healthcare needs.
A big challenge for Tift Regional is serving a population which has incidences of diseases that are higher than state and national averages in many areas. This includes obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, cancer and more. This is due to many reasons including socioeconomic factors and is compounded by changes in reimbursements and regulations. The U.S. healthcare system is regulated by dozens of agencies, and the 2010 Affordable Care Act added more to the list, including insurance exchanges and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Keeping in compliance with the regulatory complexities is a challenge for hospitals and healthcare systems around the country.
SGaMag: In looking at these strengths and challenges, what goals and projects have been established to help TRHS move forward?
Dorman: In addition to two hospitals, Tift Regional has a nursing home, an ambulatory care center, two freestanding surgery centers and various outpatient facilities. We have 24 physician practices with clinic locations in eight counties. We recently opened a new musculoskeletal center, which centralizes outpatient orthopedics, rheumatology, pain management, chiropractic care and therapy services in one convenient location. On the horizon are many projects, including a replacement facility for Cook Medical Center in Adel and a new patient tower and emergency room at Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton.
We want to capitalize on Tift Regional’s success and continue to develop into a true network of care for South Central Georgia. We are transitioning from a hospital authority to a traditional 501(c)3 not-for-profit healthcare institution. This corporate restructuring will allow us to expand our geographic footprint and develop the necessary scale to meet future regional needs.
As we move toward population health management, Tift Regional has established a Medicare-approved accountable care organization. At present, we have 18 physician practices which have earned top recognition as a patient-centered medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. This unique model of care uses a team approach in enhancing health and wellness for patients.
To reduce hospital readmissions, we have embedded physicians in high-volume nursing homes. A transition clinic is available for recently-discharged patients who may not have timely access to follow-up appointments. Our case management team rounds on all patients who make a return visit to the hospital in order to determine a root-cause and develop a plan to prevent future readmissions.
We continue to seek ways to improve access to both primary care and specialty care. The Tift Regional Medical Center Foundation is also purchasing a mobile healthcare clinic which will help assist us in outreach to medically-underserved areas.
SGaMag: What is TRHS doing to doing to recruit and retain a viable healthcare workforce?
Dorman: Recruiting and retaining physicians, advanced practice providers, and allied health professionals is a top priority for Tift Regional. Offering competitive compensation, incentives and benefits are important, but we also want to foster a work environment in which these professionals can thrive and find career fulfillment. Our board has also invested more than $1.5 million in tuition reimbursement for staff members who choose to continue their education and earn advanced degrees.
To cultivate interest in healthcare at a younger age, Tift Regional has partnered with the Tift College and Career Academy at Tift County High School, which offers tracts in the medical field. We also provide support to nursing schools and technical programs at local institutions such as Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Southern Regional Technical College.
SGaMag: With healthcare technology continuing to change, how does TRHS stay at the forefront of technology and service capabilities?
Dorman: Patient outcomes are better than they’ve ever been at hospitals around the country, and that’s largely due to advances in technology, surgical techniques, medical imaging and information systems.
At Tift Regional, we have a five-year capital plan developed with our board to stay on the forefront of technology. Some examples include recent MRI and CT upgrades in our radiology department. Our oncology center recently expanded and added a new state-of-the-art linear accelerator. This advanced modality delivers high-energy electrons to the region of a patient’s tumor more precisely, sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
We continue to invest in telemedicine technology, including connections to school-based clinics and access to specialty services such as psychiatry, stroke intervention, and pediatric subspecialties. We strive to provide the latest operating room technology for our surgeons, such as the da Vinci robotic system for minimally-invasive procedures.
Tift Regional recently converted to a new electronic health record system, powered by Cerner, which allows our healthcare professionals to electronically store, capture and access patient health information in both the acute and ambulatory care setting. This new information technology will result in enhanced workflows which will improve the speed and accuracy in which Tift Regional provides patient care. An integrated technology platform will enhance the patient experience by driving enhanced communication and coordination between patients and their care teams.
Tift Regional Health System
Includes Tift Regional Medical Center and Cook Medical Center
Awards & Recognitions
- Tift Regional Medical Center was awarded a Medicare $2.5 million Accountable Health Communities Grant;
- Tift Regional Medical Center was recognized by as a Baby-Friendly Designated Birth Facility by Baby-Friendly USA;
- Tift Regional Medical Center received the Blue Distinction Center for Total Joint Replacement by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia;
- Tift Regional Health System’s 18 primary care practices received top recognition as a Patient Centered Medical Home from the National Committee for Quality Assurance;
- Cook Medical Center received Excellence in Patient Care by the Studer Group; and
- Cook Senior Living Center received the Georgia Quality Award by the Georgia Health Care Association and Alliant Quality and Excellence in Action Award by NRC Health.