Healthier new year ahead


lobbyDiocesan hospitals plan improvements

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

The hospitals within the Syracuse Diocese have recently increased the ways in which they deliver quality health care and have won many awards for doing so.

St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica reported that its new Helen Firsching Cardiac Catherization Lab opened in March 2008. To accommodate the growth of electrophysiology services, the new facility houses four procedure rooms, a tilt room, a nine-bay holding/recovery room, support space and the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute Administrative offices. For the third consecutive year, MVHI has been recognized for its quality cardiac care. MVHI is a collaborative program of St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare which provides cardiac services to patients at both locations. MVHI was recognized in the July 2008 issue of U.S. News & World Report by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines program in an ad for its performance achievement in cardiac patient care.

Parking at St. Elizabeth Medical Center has been enhanced with the addition of two new parking lots in front of the hospital and the expansion of a parking lot adjacent to the Marian Medical Imaging building.

In addition to expanding its designation as one of the most certified and accredited hospitals in the U.S., St. Elizabeth Medical Center received the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation for the fifth consecutive year, Mohawk Valley Chamber’s 2007 Business of the Year Award and a second Medal of Honor from the National Learning Congress on Organ Donation and Transplantation.

Another health organization in the Utica area, Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare, has collaborated with Fedelis Care, the New York State Catholic health plan, to offer low-cost quality health coverage to Oneida County residents. Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare will host enrollment open houses on Jan. 15 at the Barneveld Medical Office in Barneveld and at the Washington Mills Medical Office in New Hartford.

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse has much to be proud of. The hospital earned the National Research Corporation’s Consumer Choice Award for the eighth time in nine years, and for the second year in a  row St. Joseph’s earned the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence from the Association of Critical Care Nurses. Its Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine earned reaccreditation with distinction, making it the only center in Central New York with that honor.

The hospital submitted a Certificate of Need application to the New York State Department of Health for the second phase of its facilities master plan, which includes construction of a new and expanded emergency department, renovated operating room suites and a new patient tower. It also opened a new outpatient imaging center in its adjacent office building.

St. Joseph’s emergency department can now receive EKGs from ambulances in the field that are en route to the hospital. The new system is expected to further decrease the time it takes to get a heart attack patient
into the cath lab; currently, St. Joseph’s has the best “door to wire” time in Syracuse with a 12-month rolling average of 50 minutes.

St. Joseph’s is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year and has embarked on Journey to Excellence, a continuous improvement plan, with the goal of seeking the Malcolm J. Baldrige Award, the highest award for quality in the nation.

St. Joeseph’s will receive the 2009 HealthGrades Cardiac Care Excellence Award, the Cardiac Surgery Excellence Award and the Coronary Intervention Excellence Award.

The award-winning hospital also plans to continue its efforts to revitalize the near north side of Syracuse through community collaboration and strategic planning, and will break ground on its new emergency department and operating suites later in the year. An aggressive fund-raising campaign will help support the expansion.

Last November, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton initiated a new program called Sacred Watch. It provides reassuring presence and comfort to patients who are at the final stages of life, so that they don’t have to die alone. The program is modeled after the national program, No One Dies Alone. The hospital realized the need for this program after noticing that many patients didn’t have friends or family to sit with them at the final stages of their lives.

“The physicians and oncologists have noticed that the patients are dying more peacefully with the inception of Sacred Watch,” said Peggy Steinberg, A.C.S.W., a Lourdes oncology social worker. Steinberg, along with a palliative nurse and the spiritual director at Lourdes, trained 50 volunteers to interact with dying patients and their families. The three professionals provided information about the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of dying.

“We are blessed to have 35 active volunteers,” said Lourdes Hospice volunteer coordinator, Bettye Canestaro. “The e-mails I have received from the volunteers say that they feel very privileged to be able to sit with the patients and to be able to relieve a family member’s sitting vigil and that it is very rewarding.”

The Lourdes medical staff recently presented its Golden Stethoscope Award to opthalmologist Dr. Richard Simon. The award is presented semi-annually to a member of the Lourdes Medical Staff or Allied Health Staff who exemplifies Lourdes’ core values of service of the poor, reverence, integrity, wisdom, creativity and dedication. Providers are nominated by their peers and co-workers.

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