Sky Ridge Medical Center: Susan Hicks, Chief Operating Officer

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Poised on a 57-acre campus mid-way between Colorado’s two largest cities—Denver and Colorado Springs—Sky Ridge Medical Center was the first hospital to open in Douglas County, which had been one of the fastest growing counties in the country for more than a decade.  Open just seven short years, Sky Ridge is a 186-bed full-service facility with 1000 employees and 1200 credentialed physicians representing nearly every specialty. Keeping pace with demand in the community, Sky Ridge will see more than 36,000 people through its Emergency Department and admit more than 12,000 in 2010.

“In addition to full range of surgical procedures and births, we also have a three imaging centers strategically located in the community,” says Susan Hicks, Chief Operating Officer (COO). “Our largest service line is our Spine & Total Joint program. We’re on track to do about 1,500 spine surgeries this year and 1,000 total joint replacements. In fact, Sky Ridge performs more spine surgeries than any other hospital in Colorado.”

As COO, Hicks is in charge of all program development and key hospital growth initiatives.  Working with physicians and helping grow programs is her passion. “Our imaging centers, surgical services, cardiovascular services and the spine and total joint programs are all under my span of control,” she says.  “In addition, I am working on very exciting new project – the expansion of our comprehensive breast cancer program.”

Meeting the Growing Needs of the Community

Thanks to community support and physician enthusiasm for the Sky Ridge facility and its customer focused philosophy, the hospital has been expanding each year since it opened.

“Early on, we expanded our Intensive Care Unit, followed by build outs on our third and fourth floors to create dedicated cardiovascular and orthopedics units, respectively,” notes Hicks.  “Our largest project to date was the opening of our 60,000 square foot Spine & Total Joint Center, which added seven new operating rooms, a PACU and family/visitor center with its own private entrance.”

In addition, Sky Ridge launched an open-heart surgery program, opened a second cardiac cath lab, started a cardiac rehabilitation program and will soon be launching pulmonary rehab and congestive heart failure clinics to augment the cardiac care program.  Sky Ridge is now one of the leading cardiovascular services programs in the south Denver area.

Innovative, Sky Ridge employs state-of-the-art technology in its OR suites.  Not only does the hospital use daVinci robotic technology for prostate and gyn surgical procedures, but it is also part of the cardiac care strategy.  In addition, Sky Ridge recently invested in MAKOplasty,® a new minimally invasive partial knee resurfacing procedure used to treat early to mid-stage osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee—the most common form of arthritis. MAKOplasty, powered by the RIO Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopedic system, offers a more precise and consistent result for partial knee resurfacing.

“MAKOplasty allows us to treat patients with knee osteoarthritis at earlier stages and with greater precision. Because it is less invasive and more of the patient’s actual knee remains, it offers a more natural knee motion post-operatively,” notes Hicks.

Performance Initiatives

As a joint venture of HealthONE in Denver and the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Sky Ridge greatly benefits from HCA purchasing power.

“Our company has a fabulous track record of purchasing on a large scale and contracting prices,” says Hicks. “I am a member of the committee that reviews all new product requests. We evaluate if the product is on contract and if it makes sense from a patient, physician and hospital perspective. Our company has a great infrastructure that allows us to maximize our buying power thus reducing costs.”

Looking to the Future

Sky Ridge, like many other hospitals, is in a very competitive environment therefore the team must stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology, customer service and healthcare advancements.

“We continually assess the needs in our community and create a business case for how we will meet those needs,” Hicks says. “We’ve been very fortunate because our team is incredible, the physicians are highly regarded and the community has embraced the hospital.  This has enabled us to continue to grow and expand. We are very much looking forward to the next seven years!”

-by T.M. Simmons

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