By Brenda Flanagan
When University Hospital opened as an independent health care facility, staff didn’t know what to expect.
“We’re definitely on our own now and we are having to carry the burden of managing this facility by ourselves and focusing on providing quality patient care,” said University Hospital President and CEO James Gonzalez.
The re-invention of University Hospital created a private, community medical center — still a Level One Trauma Unit — responsible to the community without breaking its budget.
When asked if it’s been a stressful year, Gonzalez said, “It has. A lot of unknowns as we got to July 1 and many thought, ‘What will happen when we got to the first year?’ But here we are today.”
“The day-to-day functioning of the place hasn’t changed as much as one would think. The patient volume hasn’t changed in the past year significantly,” said University Hospital Trauma Surgeon Dr. Devashish Anjaria.
Anjaria works in the shock and trauma unit. He says it needs an upgrade.
“The place has really been under-budgeted for quite some time, so equipment in radiology, equipment in the operating room, facilities upgrades,” Anjaria said.
Elsewhere you do see evidence of a $37 million renovation. Brand new patient beds feature computerized air mattresses that help prevent bed sores.
“The bed’s great for the patient’s skin and mobility. It actually gives them a soft massage when the bed is on because the air flows through the mattress. It’s a whole lot better for the patient,” said University Hospital Patient Care Technician Mabline Torres.
The cardiac catheterization labs and the angiography unit got new imaging machines. One costs $1.3 million and the Director of Radiology says, “It is a Lamborghini. It is a brand new machine with all the latest computer technology. So we can follow the arteries along, we can put it in 3D.”
One 10-year-old CT machine will be replaced by a cutting edge cardiac scanner — a total upgrade.
“We want to keep up with everything that’s going on out in the world. We want to be able to do that here and supply our patients with good health care,” said University Hospital Chief imaging Technologist Sandi Smith-Holmes. When asked how the past year has been, Smith-Holmes said, “It’s been different. I think everybody’s trying to get used to the change.”
The hospital also opened a new walk-in clinic to reduce emergency room visits.
“It’s about developing a brand new culture of caring and compassion for the patients we serve,” said Gonzalez.
You might say this past year has been less of a honeymoon, more of a shakedown cruise. But the CEO says he’s pleased. He sees University Hospital evolving.