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Jeffrey Batts: Nash UNC Health Care looks to future

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Nash UNC recently celebrated National Hospital Week — a time set aside to highlight and celebrate the hard work and commitment exhibited by hospital staff nationwide.

As we celebrated our team, their dedication and impact on our community, we reflected upon the great strides your hospital has made in quality of care, patient and family experience and financial sustainability over the past year.

Your hospital has renewed its commitment to provide high quality, patient-centered health care services to our community. In partnership with our medical staff, new protocols and improved processes have led to significant improvement in our quality of care measures. Care measures for sepsis, heart attack and strokes have improved impressively in recent years, and Nash UNC receives national recognitions for our work in those areas. The data utilized for grades by public reporting organizations such as Leapfrog can lag behind by as much as three years. But you should know, as our data catch up to that lag period, that our culture of care today reflects the dedication of our entire team to provide high quality and compassionate health care.

Our Emergency Department, one of the busiest in the state with almost 70,000 patient visits a year, instituted a number of new processes to keep patients and their family members comfortable and better informed throughout their time in the Emergency Department. We have reduced our door to provider wait time to an average of 22 minutes — well under the national benchmark of 30 minutes, and much improved from our 60 minutes average just 18 months ago. Patient experience surveys prove that our hard work is making a difference and our community is taking notice.

The Nash UNC Board approved our 2020+ Financial Improvement plan during the summer of 2018 and we are proud to say that we have improved our projected fiscal year 2019 performance by approximately $15 million over fiscal year 2018. This improvement reflects a lot of hard work to reduce expenses and grow volume and revenue, and was achieved while investing in our staff to bring wages to market averages. Our nurse vacancy rate has dropped from a peak of 17.4 percent in April of 2017 to 5.9 percent today, which far exceeds national benchmarks of 8-12 percent.

We remain a very financially stable hospital, and will work to continue our improvement as hospitals in general will bear a substantial share of the burden as our industry seeks to make health care more affordable.

Looking toward the next three to five years, our Board of Commissioners recently approved a strategic plan that defines our organization’s short- and long-term priorities for fulfilling our community’s health care needs. We look forward to sharing this plan with our community in a number of ways — including forums, community groups and on our website. We are focused on solidifying and building upon our improvements through this strategic plan and remaining well-positioned as the health care environment continues to change. We welcome the opportunity to share this in person with any community group that is interested.

I want you to know that our leadership team and our Board of Commissioners are fully invested in our community and in the success of our health care system. We are a managed – not owned – entity of the UNC Health Care System, which allows us to benefit from UNC system resources and expertise, while independently making decisions for our local community.

Our staff are also dedicated servants to this community. We have hosted, participated in and/or had staff volunteers at more than 30 community events already this spring. Our leadership is committed to consistent communication and stronger connections with our partners in health care, and with the public that we serve, so we can work collaboratively to improve the social determinants of health in our region.

We all want to work together to ensure our hospital is providing the highest level of care and quality to our community, and that you’re aware of the great work that is going on right here so you can get the health care you need locally. Thank you for allowing me to share the exciting ways Nash UNC has improved, and will continue to improve, to fulfill its vision and meet your needs.

Jeffrey Batts is chairman of the Nash UNC Health Care Board of Commissioners.

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