Greatness, Southern Regional Medical Center joins Emory Healthcare
by Michael Booth
photo by Michie Turpin
WITH A NEW CEO AND PRESIDENT AT ITS HELM, SOUTHERN REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER HAS A SIMPLE GOAL AS THE SOUTHSIDE’S LEADING HEALTHCARE FACILITY, ATTAIN GREATNESS.
Charting a course in that direction, Southern Regional is joining Emory Healthcare, Georgia’s largest and most comprehensive health care provider. The two groups entered into an initial agreement to integrate Southern Regional into the Emory system, which includes The Emory Clinic; Emory University Hospital; Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory’s Midtown Atlanta hospital; Emory University Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital in Tucker, Georgia; Emory-Adventist Hospital at Smyrna; Emory-Children’s Center; Wesley Woods Center; Saint Joseph’s Hospital; and Emory Johns Creek Hospital.
“When I took over as CEO I asked our employees to not look backward but to look forward,” said Crissey. “Change is what makes you great, and this is the largest change in our 41-year history.”
“When an agreement is reached, it will establish Southern Regional as a hospital partner in the Emory Clinically Integrated Network in the Southern Crescent area,” said John Fox, CEO and President of Emory Healthcare.
The agreement, which at the time of this publication was non-binding as negotiations continue, will eventually bring management of Southern Regional under the Emory Healthcare umbrella. The two healthcare providers would blend their quality programs together while Emory Healthcare would guide Southern Regional’s financial and operational functions. In addition, Emory Healthcare would strengthen physician partnerships, which would result in increased access for patients. Emory would work on implementation of its quality programs and initiatives at Southern Regional.
“This is transformational change. We are transforming our organization to ensure that we are providing quality care in the future,” said Crissey.
Emory Healthcare is the clinical arm of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University. As such, it focuses on patient care, education of health professionals, research addressing health and illness, and health policies for prevention and treatment of disease. All of this medical activity is supported by The Emory University School of Medicine, which has been at the forefront of medical knowledge and research, pioneering many advances and procedures.
Southern Regional has a slogan: “A Passion for Healing. The Technology to do it well.” In the past few years the hospital has brought in the latest medical technology, including a DaVinci Robot to enhance surgery capabilities, a 64-slice CT machine to the recent addition of around the clock tele-ICU monitoring. The hospital started the Advanced Primary Stroke Center as one of the first of its kind on the Southside and is the only accredited chest pain center in the south metro area.
But technology is only one aspect of healthcare provided by Southern Regional. Crissey points out the fact that the hospital has 10 doctors named to several “Best of” lists in regional and national publications. For example, at the Women’s Life Center, where more than 44,000 babies have been delivered over the past decade, their Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit features two specialists that Crissey calls “the finest in the Southeast,” Dr. Francisco Velez and Dr. Adegboyega Aderbigbe.
“All of these components, with the technology and our great staff, means we can provide a high quality of care in Atlanta,” Said Crissey.
Southern Regional has the state’s fifth busiest Emergency Room in 2011, serving nearly 80,000 patients, which was good news/bad news for the hospital. According to Crissey, last year the hospital delivered more than $79 million in services that went unpaid, with $28 million going to charity care and $52 million to unpaid medical bills.
“This is one of the challenges we face, economic problems. This puts stand-alone hospitals at risk. Other health systems are in trouble but with Emory Healthcare we will have efficiency and economy of scale we need,” said Crissey.
Started in 1905, Emory Healthcare has become the largest health care system in Georgia, with 1,830 licensed patient beds, 9,000 employees and more than 20 health centers located throughout Metro Atlanta. Southern Regional has 331 beds and a staff of 1,689.
When Southern Regional began exploring the possibility of engaging a healthcare partner last year, there were three systems that were looked at. According to hospital spokesperson Claudia Hall, in a survey of 900 employees, 98 percent favored joining Emory Healthcare while 81 percent of the physicians agreed. Southern Regional’s Board of Directors made the final decision to go with Emory.
“This is an opportunity for Southern Regional to continue to provide the best quality care to the citizens of the Southern Crescent with a partner that can give us access to their great health network. We couldn’t do this on our own,” said Crissey. “People in this community expect the best quality care, and they deserve it.”