By Heather Mullinix
Cumberland Medical Center boasts highly skilled medical staff, state-of-the-art equipment and advanced procedures, offering a community health center that is able to offer great quality care close to home.
"Many times people think bigger means better, but that's not a given," said Larry Moore, interim CEO of CMC. "We want the community to think of us as their hospital and to be proud of the high level of care available in their back door."
CMC not only offers benefits to those who live in the region, but it has a tremendous economic impact on the community. A 2009 study by the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA), using the IMPLAN database, found that found CMC had a $57.9 million direct impact per year, primarily in salaries. That results in retail purchases of $13.9 million in the community, with sales tax collections of $1.1 million. CMC also purchases about $4.4 million in supplies and equipment.
"That's just for Cumberland Medical Center," Moore said. "We're the second largest employer in the county. Most of our employees live in the community and pay taxes and they shop here. That keeps generating jobs and employment opportunities throughout our community."
Then there is the larger health care community, such as ambulatory centers, optometrists, dentists, dermatologists, home health providers and more. The total medical community has a total economic impact of $134.8 million, with $32.3 million in retail purchases and $2.6 million in sales tax receipts.
"That's a huge economic impact on the community," Moore said.
CMC also helps attract new residents and businesses because healthcare is often a top concern of those looking to relocate.
CMC also helps to provide medical care to all members of the community. In fact, patients can receive help on their medical bills on a sliding fee scale, based on the federal poverty rate. In 2009, charity care accounted for $3 million on a cost basis, with another $3 million in uncollected fees.
"Our policy is if you need assistance in ability to pay, we have a sliding scale you can apply for," Moore said.
The hospital and medical community offer a variety of specialities, including pulmonology, rheumatology, endocrinology, orthopedics and more.
"People sometimes think they have to travel to have consultations with specific specialties, but we have a number of specialties available right here," said Rebecca Foster, chief nursing officer at CMC.
CMC continues to recruit specialists and physicians to meet the needs of Cumberland and surrounding counties. Those include Dr. Muhammad Qasim Salar Mir, pulmonology; Dr. Ronald Varcak, family practice; and Dr. Todd Anthony, internal medicine and infectious disease.
The hospital is continuously evaluating community needs and working to recruit physicians to meet those needs. That includes looking to bring two more primary care physicians to the community to increase access to health care, which was identified as a priority in the hospital's community care assessment.
Many of the medical staff at CMC trained at medical schools that are considered top programs, including Georgetown, Duke, Yale, Vanderbilt, Emory University and more. Also, 96 percent of physicians are board certified, and many are board certified in more than one area.
CMC and its physicians have brought new procedures and programs to the community, some of which aren't available elsewhere.
"We're on the cutting edge of gastrointestinal treatment procedures," said Foster. "We're glad to be able to provide that service not only to our residents, but on a regional basis."
CMC also offers a sleep center with a board-certified, Vanderbilt trained neurologist and sleep study specialist.
Digital mammography was brought to CMC a little more than a year ago, addressing a need many patients had previously traveled to take advantage of.
"We're able to offer screening and diagnostic exams," Foster said. "There's quick turnaround in reading the scans. If there is a problem found, we have a nurse navigator on staff to help support the patient and walk her through the process to diagnosis, and beyond."
CMC also partners with Thompson Cancer Survival Center to provide radiation oncology services, using state-of-the-art equipment.
"When you think of cancer center programs, MD Anderson and Duke are some of the first names that come to mind in terms of quality," Moore said. "But we have the exact same equipment they have. People can get that service at this location without driving long distances."
Vascular surgery, dialysis and other specialized services are also available in Crossville through CMC and it's medical staff.
"We're pleased to have so many services," Foster said. "We're committed to quality service and continue to expand those services so that our community does not have to travel long distances to receive great care."
Beyond the physicians, many of the hospitals nurses, therapists, supports staff and non-clinical staff have taken it upon themselves to obtain additional training and certifications.
"We have a lot of staff members that have made the effort to go above and beyond what is required to provide better care," Foster said. "We're proud of the level of professionalism and the desire of our staff to continue to improve their skills, many times on their own time."
CMC also takes part in a variety of quality initiatives that work to address patient safety throughout the hospital.
"We are able to network with other facilities and we work on specific quality initiatives that are really important to patient safety, the prevention of infection, the prevention of any hospital-acquire conditions like infections or falls," said Foster. "That helps us to focus on evidence-based solutions to some of those common issues hospitals deal with."
CMC is part of the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety through the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA), taking advantage of education, resources, training and other tools to increase patient safety. THA also offers the THA Hospital Engagement Network (HEN), with a goal of reducing hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent and hospital readmission by 20 percent over three years. In this program, CMC and other hospitals address safety, leadership and priority areas that include adverse drug events, injuries from falls, central line-associated blood stream infections and other topics. The Surgical Unit Based Safety Program is designed to reduce infections and complications in the surgical department, and the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care gathers information to optimize birth outcomes in labor and delivery, specifically reducing the number of elective early births.
"Many times in the hospital, we're doing invasive procedures to treat patients that are seriously ill. We want to be certain we're using all the techniques available to us to protect the patient," she said.
CMC recently received re-accredidation from the Joint Commission. That involves a thorough review of the hospital, including overall standards of care. The accreditation team spends several days on-site surveying operations, inspecting patient care areas and speaking with staff and patients.
In addition to those quality initiatives, the hospital has also launched its Commitment to CARE program, stressing the importance of treating all patients with compassion and clear communication.
"We want patients to have as good an experience as you can when you're in the hospital or a loved one is in the hospital," Foster said. "The deepest need is that we want to be sure we're communicating consistently."
CARE stands for Compassion, Accountability, Respect and Excellence.
"We have asked all employees to dedication themselves to a commitment to CARE and provide the utmost attention and respect to our patients," Moore said. "Hopefully, anyone visiting the hospital is being greeted by our staff and getting the assistance they need. If someone is lost, we've empowered employees to not just give them directions, but to escort them where they are going."
In coming months, CMC is also implementing several improvement projects, including a renovation of the emergency department, which was designed to handle about 20,000 visits, but CMC is seeing about 36,000.
"We're going to spruce up that area and make it larger," Moore said.
The ER will not close during the renovation process, set to begin in the next budget, and it is hoped the disruption will be minimal for patients.
"Logistics and pre-planning is critical for this project," Moore said.
Even with the high volume of patients seen at CMC's ER, Moore noted the Team Health organization that supports the ER physicians had said wait times at the hospital were better than averages.
"We're in the upper echelon in terms of our total wait times and time to physician," Moore said.
CMC will celebrate National Hospital Week May 12-18, with a cookout for employees provided by Cumberland County Bank. Community residents and groups are invited to take part in the open house and hospital tours to learn more about the many departments and specialized care available at CMC. Call Debi Davis or Robin Abram at 459-7321 to schedule a tour.