Danbury Hospital: Frank J. Kelly, President & CEO

by HCE Exchange on March 9, 2011

Danbury Hospital is a non-profit medical facility with 371 licensed beds and 3,300 employees in Danbury, Connecticut. It is a university teaching hospital associated with New York Medical College, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center and offers specialized programs in the following practices: emergency and trauma care, surgery, cancer, cardiovascular services, digestive disorders, radiology, laboratory medicine, maternity, neonatal and pediatric medicine, sleep disorders, asthma management, diabetes, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and behavioral health care.  It boasts a medical staff of physicians, of which more than 95% are board-certified in their specialty.

“Excellence starts at the top,” says Frank J. Kelly, president and CEO of Danbury Hospital and Danbury Health Systems.  “Our board of directors sets high standards and targeted levels of performance.  It’s up to us to live up to their expectations.”

And they do. For the third year in a row, Solucient, a health care business intelligence organization, has named Danbury Hospital to its 100 Top Hospitals list for better patient safety, shorter length of stay, fewer patient complications and lower mortality (death rate) than its peer hospitals.  Its performance in Solucient’s study ranked Danbury Hospital as best-in-class in seven of the 14 categories measured.  This level of excellence is unmatched by any other organization in Connecticut and by very few in the country.

The hospital is also ranked in the top five percent of hospitals in the country for overall clinical excellence by HealthGrades, an independent health-care rating organization and for the second year in a row, the hospital has been named the Consumer’s Choice facility in Connecticut.

Organize for Success

“We have a system that allows us to look at all avenues – quality of inpatient and outpatient care, physicians’ offices, healthcare settings – and organize the way care is delivered,” says Mr. Kelly.  “It’s a very valuable asset.”

Danbury Health Systems Inc. is the parent organization of Danbury Hospital and its affiliates and provides the leadership and financial support to establish programs and services consistent with its mission.  In addition to the hospital, affiliates include a health care corporation that offers occupational health programs, a visiting nurse program to provide in-home care, a regional hospice corporation, a hospital development fund and a health services management corporation.

“As always, it is a challenge to keep community and affiliated doctors engaged in hospital programming,” says Mr. Kelly.  “But because we have a high level of integration, our community doctors are involved in both establishing and improving programs, and also play a key role in management of the hospital.”

He adds, “We are getting better about letting each voice be heard.  We have a physician liaison team that goes out and interacts with doctors who do not come into hospital often to learn how was can improve and what new programs and skills are in our community.”

Another challenge faced by the rapidly-changing health care industry is staying ahead of the curve.  Mr. Kelly notes that, “Often, the best way to remain at the forefront of health care is to focus on aligning, as best we can, the interests of medical staff.  Line up the future of the organization with what programs and improvements doctors would like to see in their practices. Again, our system is organized in a way that facilitates the communication and collaboration necessary to achieve this outcome.”

Invest for the Future

“One thing that sets Danbury Hospital apart is our good stewardship of funds,” says Mr. Kelly.  “The board works hard to appropriate capital dollars where they are – and will be – needed most while remaining in line with the organization’s strategic plan.”

The hospital recently completed an expansion program that allowed it to offer into additional services such as interventional cardiology and oncology services.  Several clinical centers have been designed to focus on gastroenterology, orthopedics and cardiovascular care.  The most recent addition to the campus was a 60,000 square-foot outpatient center that houses hospital testing areas as well as physician offices in specific clinical areas.  The center allows outpatients to visit only one location and created hospital space to treat additional inpatients.

“In addition to our investment in the physical facility, significant IT investment is a priority,” says Mr. Kelly.  The hospital recently completed an eight million dollar investment in new imaging to bring in the latest PET/CT and 64-slice CT scanning technology as well as a 3.0 Tesla MRI unit.  To enhance the patient experience, a stream-lined admissions processes and web-based scheduling programs are priority projects.  In addition, complete implementation of an electronic medical records system is underway.

Hire Smart

“We’d never achieve any of these outcomes without effective teamwork,” says Mr. Kelly.  “It’s all about the people.”

Danbury Hospital boasts an award-winning human resources program with basic values rooted in pay for performance, recognition and professional development.  Performance evaluations heavily link individual goals and objectives to those of the organization as a whole.  “I am a firm believer that these programs and a strong HR presence are vital to sustaining an organization,” says Mr. Kelly.

Live the Mission in the Community

“Danbury Health Systems is – quite simply – committed to advancing the health and well-being of people. That’s why we practice a continuum of care, not just acute focus,” says Mr. Kelly.  In order to live up to its mission, Danbury Hospital leverages its leadership, medical expertise and teaching hospitals resources to anticipate and respond to new developments in healthcare as well as integrate its system.

“We are data-driven.  Hard, measurable data tells us how we are doing and where we can improve,” says Mr. Kelly.  “And, although we have achieved a comprehensive set of services, Danbury Hospital is not trying to be all things to all people.  However, we feel, and the data suggests, that we do some things better.  That, not just marketing propaganda, is a source of our pride.”

The community sees the benefits.  Millions are invested each year in programs that benefit the low-income population to provide pro bono care, manage community clinics, and encourage participation in healthy activities and healthy lifestyles.

Get Real

“We don’t hide anything – we are transparent.  If we have warts we are willing to acknowledge them,” says Mr. Kelly.  “It’s the biggest part of success – being sincere; delivering on our commitments to be the very best we can be.”

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