Trinitas Regional Medical Center: Gary S. Horan, CEO

by HCE Exchange on August 19, 2010

Trinitas Regional Medical Center (Trinitas RMC) is located in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the fourth largest city in the state based on population. In 2010 the hospital will celebrate its 10th anniversary, but the history of the hospital goes back further than just a decade. Elizabeth General Hospital dates back to 1879 and St. Elizabeth Hospital began a few decades later. Trinitas RMC was formed in 2000 as a result of the strategic merger of these two hospitals. A third hospital, Alexian Brothers had previously merged with Elizabeth General. St. Elizabeth and Elizabeth General decided to merge because of several factors, most notably the overall change in the health care environment. “None of the three hospitals could sustain themselves,” explains CEO Gary S. Horan, who has been leading Trinitas since mid-2001. “Merging eliminated the duplication of services, allowing the hospital to take advantage of economies of scale and develop specialized locations.” Today, Trinitas RMC houses its acute care units at the former St. Elizabeth site and behavioral health and long-term care is offered at the previous Alexian Brothers locale, while the old Elizabeth General site closed. These consolidations of services resulted in a decrease in total hospital beds, from 950 to 550 total.

Centers of True Excellence

Trinitas recently changed its name from a General Hospital to a Regional Medical Center to better reflect the larger scope of care now being offered to a greater community radius. Currently Trinitas RMC offers the following centers of excellence, areas which receive specialized focus and expertise: oncology, cardiology, behavioral health, renal dialysis, diabetes services, senior services, maternal and child health, sleep disorders, wound care and a nursing school. “We developed those centers because we do very well in these areas and we have the technology and facilities to provide high class services in these specialties,” says Horan. Trinitas RMC is living up to the excellence standard in these areas. The behavioral health department is one of the largest in state, with 275,000 inpatient and outpatient visits. The School of Nursing also stands out for its reputation and popularity in the community. The school is indeed a fixture in the Elizabeth region. Established in 1891 by the Elizabeth General Ladies Aid Society, the school has been training nurses for over a century and today is the second largest nursing school in the US. The school has also been recognized by the National League of Nursing, making it one of only 13 schools in the US to receive such a designation and the first hospital-based school to do so.

New Technology Translates to Better Care

Trinitas RMC is leading the charge with new innovations and continually adding new technologies. For example, in 2009 the medical center acquired the da Vinci Surgical System for robotic surgeries. “This technology is doing very well for us, we primarily use it for prostate and gynecological surgeries and the surgeons that use it are ecstatic about it,” adds Horan. Other improvements include a comprehensive cancer center which now features RapidArc Radiation Therapy, a technology that reduces the time patients have to undergo radiation therapy by 80%. This results in a single radiation treatment time being cut from around 20 minutes to approximately 90 seconds. Trinitas is the first center in the state to offer this technology.

The medical center has also branched out into emerging fields, such as bariatric surgery, recruiting surgeons and building the department from the ground up. The center is also very close to having a complete electronic health record and computerized physician ordering inventory. “These improvements boost patient safety and cut down on misinterpretations in   handwriting,” adds Horan.

An Integral Part of the Community

Trinitas takes great pride in being a responsible part of the community. Community relations and initiatives provided 691 programs in 2007, including preventative health screening and classes to support groups. Some 78,000 residents participated in these programs in just one year. Additionally, Trinitas employees donated 53,000 hours to make these programs successful.

This dedication from employees probably comes in part due to the positive feelings staff have for the medical center. Trinitas has received a Best Places to Work in New Jersey from NJBIZ for three consecutive years. And this distinction is special because 75% of the award’s criteria is based on what employees say about the organization and how they perceive it as a desirable place to work. “This is amazing when you think about it,” says Horan. “The hospital merged not that long ago and employees had to adjust to that change. Their ties to the old hospitals have gone away and people now think of themselves as Trinitas employees.

Keeping Patients No.1 While Keeping an Eye on the Bottom Line

Maintaining high levels of quality and patient safety is the top priority at Trinitas. Because of the economic downturn and lower reimbursement rates, coupled with an increasing uninsured population, Trinitas has had to think creatively when it comes to keeping costs down. The medical center belongs to the Greater New York Hospital Association, which allows it to participate in a group purchasing contract with Premier, resulting in significant savings. Trinitas also outsources the management of some departments through this association’s affiliation with Nexera. This includes management of housekeeping, food service, facilities and security.

“All of these measures will take us in to the future as a very strong hospital despite the limitations of the times,” adds Horan. Because of its strategic growth and strong ties to the community and employees, Trinitas Regional Medical Center is not only weathering the economic storm, it is expanding to serve residents wherever there is a need.

-by Jacqueline Rupp

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