PARKERSBURG -The formation of the Camden Clark Medical Center is opening a realm of possibilities for improving health care and expansion into new services, local officials said.
The medical center was born midnight Tuesday when the former Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital were consolidated under the flag of the West Virginia United Health System, which financed the purchase of St. Joseph's from Signature Hospitals for about $100 million.
Unveiled was the new name, new logo and the Memorial Campus as the new name of the former Camden-Clark and St. Joseph's Campus for the hospital established by the Sisters of St. Joseph more than 100 years ago.
Camden Clark- St. Joe's
Changes for the better are coming, said Tom Jones, president and CEO of United Health.
''It is a journey that will take a period of years,'' he said. ''I think you are definitely going to see some changes in the next 12 months and a plan will be put together and then you will see changes over a two-to-five-year period.''
Initially, both campuses will operate as two fully-functioning hospitals, said Mike King, the newly appointed CEO of the Camden Clark Medical Center. King was the CEO at the former Camden-Clark.
Mike King, president and chief executive officer of Camden Clark Medical Center, left, and Tom Jones, president and chief executive officer of West Virginia United Health System, show the new T-shirts for the consolidation of Camden-Clark and St. Joseph’s hospitals. St. Joseph’s ceased to exist on Tuesday. (Photo by Jess Mancini)
''When our patients walk in, they need to essentially have the same level of care whether they come into the St. Joseph's or Memorial campuses,'' he said.
King said bringing the two facilities together was a three-phase process. The first step was the transaction and getting the paperwork and financing in place.
''The second phase is getting everything integrated, which is a lot of work'' King said. ''We are in a phase right now where we are truly integrating the two campuses.''
The third phase will be the long-range planning.
''I think that is the question most people are interested in,'' King said. ''What is this going to look like 10 years from now? I don't know that yet.''
Over the next 18 months, the hospital will be involved in long-term planning for the new medical center.
''We will have a plan that will eventually answer a lot of questions,'' King said.
Some operations will be consolidated into a single location where it is logical, he said.
For example, all open-heart services will remain on the St. Joseph's Campus, King said.
''St. Joseph's will be the open-heart center, no doubt about it,'' King said adding there is a new cardiac surgeon in place at St. Joseph's who has done more heart valve replacements in the last six months locally than he did in the last five years.
However, the Memorial Campus needs to be ready to deal with patients in cardiac distress who also need immediate attention, King said. Equipment and personnel will need to be available there as well, he said.
Obstetrics will be the first area to be combined because of the high cost of operation, Jones said.
Meetings will be held with staff of both campuses, King said.
''It doesn't make sense to run two separate obstetrics services,'' King said. ''How do we put it together and where will we put them together? Those are the kinds of things we will answer in the next 12 months.''
The Sisters of St. Joseph will still have a presence at the St. Joseph's Campus, he said. The nuns will remain part of the Spiritual Support Departments at both campuses.
As for procedures performed at the St. Joseph's Campus, the hospital will follow Catholic doctrine, he said.
The once separate charitable foundations of each hospital will be brought together under one organization. However, the individual foundations will remain legal entities to continue receiving bequests made prior to the consolidation.
Many aspects of hospital operations will be reviewed in the coming months.
''My own opinion is to get the full effect of a fully integrated hospital, you need to have hospital inpatient acute care consolidated in one place,'' King said. ''Where will it be? No decision has been made, but the Memorial Campus has more horizontal vertical space to give us a lot more flexibility. It doesn't mean that will be the location. That is yet to be determined.''
Physicians now have the same privileges at both campuses that they might have had at one or the other before.
''We picked up about 36 new physicians in the Camden Clark structure from those who didn't practice at Camden before,'' King said.
The ambulance services for both hospitals will continue on as they have been, hospital officials said.
''Their patterns will probably stay where the services are,'' King said. ''Both groups really have a great relationship with both facilities.''
An immediate change the public will see is new signage at both campuses as well as how billings and collections are handled.
''St. Joseph's used to outsource that to Virginia,'' King said. ''We will bring that back in-house and it could add up to 20 new jobs.''
King said the consolidation of both facilities will save around $10 million right off the bat in the first year.
Management positions will be downsized and people will be moved around to better utilize them. Decisions will be based primarily on seniority, he said.
''There will also be a period of building some jobs up,'' he said. ''There is time to look at options.''
Hospital officials will study the establishment of a pre-natal unit as part of the Intensive Care Unit so families won't have to travel to Charleston, Columbus or elsewhere where the care is available for prematurely born infants, King said. Expansion of the open-heart program into new technologies and ways to improve cancer care are in the mix, too, he said.
''You have to go through a process,'' Jones said in determining what they will end up doing. ''What is the best way to serve the needs of the people?
''All of that will be determined.''
Jones expects the new Camden Clark Medical Center will have as profound an impact on the area as the medical centers in Charleston and Clarksburg have had. Being a part of United Health will provide Camden Clark Medical Center the resources and ability to do research and education, Jones said.
However, it will still be many of the same physicians, nurses and others residents have relied on for years, he said.
''I think health care will always have a local flavor to it,'' Jones said. ''It is local people taking care of people in the local community. That is what it is about. We want to create a state-of-the-art facility here that will be much more efficient and effective. It will be a one-stop shop for health care and that is all that people really want.''
Residents will also have a part in United Health decisions as five positions on its board of directors will be filled from this community.
''Every member brings benefits to the system in ways of doing things,'' Jones said. ''A system takes great ideas from multiple locations and brings them together.''
The medical center's new slogan is "Stronger and Healthier." Although people throughout the area have their own set patterns in determine which facility they are most comfortable going to for their medical needs, hospital officials believe over time as services are consolidated and new services are added people will start to think of both facilities as one entity where they will get the best care possible. ''If we are responsible, we will be taking care of our community and its needs,'' King said.