Terre Haute Regional Hospital: Christopher Hill, CEO

by HCE Exchange on August 19, 2010

Terre Haute Regional Hospital is a 278-bed full service community hospital located in the town of Terre Haute, Indiana. With Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Ivy Tech Community College and St. Mary of the Woods College, Terre Haute is a university town of approximately 60,000 residents.

Terre Haute Regional’s Chief Executive Officer is Christopher Hill. Taking the helm in November of 2006, Hill had recently retired from the United States Army. In his 20-year career in the military, Hill served as a Medical Service Corps officer and healthcare executive. Holding a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Baylor University, Hill has been a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives for more than 6 years. His community involvement carries over into work with the March of Dimes, United Way, Terre Haute Economic Development Corporation, Chamber of Commerce and events such as Relay For Life, March for Babies, Heartwalk and Race for the Cure.

Harnessing Resources is a Key to Success

Approximately 70 miles west of Indianapolis, Terre Haute Regional has recently partnered with a group of the region’s best radiologists.  “We entered into what I think is the evolving model for radiology, with a large, 42-physician group out of Indianapolis. They service one of the larger hospital systems in Indianapolis and the state, as well as several other hospitals. We will continue to have an onsite radiologist who does our interventional and routine readings.  This has also allowed us to integrate with a Teleradiography System (PACS) through a high speed independent internet system which has resulted in the next generation of Radiology Services.  The joining together of the two systems gives the hospital access to sub-specialty radiologists that we never had access to, significantly increasing the quality of services provided.  One local neurosurgeon has already seen the difference, stating his slides were read by a neuro-radiologist are the best he’s seen.”

The process for this to happen has been performed by the coordination of the NWR Staff and our Radiology and IT/IS department at Terre Haute Regional.  There is open communication between both parties who are dedicated to insure that the highest quality readings are resulted in the fastest possible time.  Hill added “the Physician that reads the exams are able to contact the ordering physician about critical results and any time the ordering Physician desires to talk directly about a concern an image or scan, PACS allows them to review the same images at both Terre Haute Regional and Northwest Radiology while they speak.”

Building a Better, Safer Hospital

In 2004 the hospital completed the final phase of a $40 million construction renovation project. A new emergency department and new ICU were established. The 18-bed ICU command center was designed using innovative and practical layout features to create a centralized nursing station with rooms surrounding it. “A quick glance into our Emergency Room and ICU departments and you see the future of medicine with our state-of-the-art equipment.”  In 2006, we met yet another need by investing over $170,000 in a progressive wound center which includes HBOT, meeting what the hospital saw as a growing community need for patients with non-healing wounds.  A significant capital investment of $2.7 million dollars was spent for a radiology package that includes PACS, digital EKG, digital ECHO, digital mammography, digital bone densitometer, 4D Ultrasound and a 64-slice CT with angiography. These are significant investments that will improve the level of care the nursing and medical staff provide. Additionally, last year we acquired an adjacent property on our campus so we are well positioned to take the next step to meet the future healthcare needs of Wabash Valley residents. This expansion of our campus better positions us to respond to those needs in an effective manner.”

Caring for Patients, Valuing Staff

Hill expresses extreme pride in the culture that leadership and staff have created.  The first focus is patient care and the need to treat patients as people, not just cases. “People expect we are going to be technically proficient, but with all the technology what tends to be missing sometimes is the relationship piece. Our leadership team and our nursing leadership group have spent time to examine what we are doing with the patients at the bedside to ensure we are managing the whole patient care experience. Our goal is to have every patient and their family to look at their experience with Terre Haute Regional Hospital in a positive way.”  Regional Hospital continuously focuses on how to provide the highest quality and safest care without losing site of the relationship side of care.  Hill offers the example of a patient who was celebrating her birthday in the hospital. Her spouse was disappointed that he couldn’t celebrate the day like they usually do. The nursing staff was able to pass this information along to the dietary staff, who took it upon themselves to provide a cake and deliver it to the patient’s room.

“I say it all the time, ‘Every patient every time.’ We want the staff to always be mindful of the patient’s medical needs as well as emotional needs. We want them to take a holistic view of the patients and their families care.” Additionally work groups met and a core team was created to address specific obstacles preventing us from reaching our goal of being in the 90th percentile for CMS core measures – a goal which the group has helped us now meet.  Another example is our hand washing campaign which increased staff hand washing rates in order to cut rates of infection and eradicate MRSA from our hospital . This initiative alone has resulted in positive results as hand washing rates have risen to 98% and in house hospital acquired infections due to MRSA have dropped by almost 50%.

The other culture initiative that Hill notes is the improvements in the area of staff relations. “How do we take this environment that we work in, that is otherwise complex and difficult and make it an environment that our staff wants to work in and wants to keep coming back every day?  We were one of the lower scoring hospitals in our system, so we spent a lot of time on creating what we call a healthy work environment.” One change Hill implemented was to increase the avenues from employee feedback which is obtained through an active and empowered Employee Advisory Group, Town Hall forums and staff governance – as just a few examples of the ways Regional has opened the lines of communication.  “We were the eighth most improved hospital in the company for overall employee satisfaction, we went up 8% overall for improvement in employee satisfactions and our turnover rate dropped from a high three years ago of 25% to currently being just under 15%. I credit the human resources department, leadership team and all of our staff for helping with these improvements.” Hill believes that low turnover rates and employee satisfaction are critical elements of maintaining a culture that ensures high quality and safe patient care. “For employees, the door is always open, the email is always open, our ‘bottom up’ method” means that staff understand that their voices are heard.”

In summary, Hill stated “in the last 2 years the Regional Hospital family has taken on several challenges to improve the quality and safety of care we provide to our patients as well as make our hospital a great place to work.”  To achieve its goals the hospital took a systemic and measured approach involving all staff members so that achievement of their stated goals could become a reality.  “From core measures to elimination of MRSA/HAIs to creating a Healthy Work Environment – we have truly seen spectacular results from our focused efforts.”  Hill says that if the leadership steps back and performs a critical analysis to identify where opportunities exist and empowers and resources the staff to make change, the result will be positive change.  “Giving voice to the employees to change not only our work environment but also the processes and systems that allow them to provide the highest quality and safest patient care has made the difference – and it shows in patient, staff and physician satisfaction and the quality of care we provide.”

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