Ray outlines hospital improvements at luncheon

Evan Ray recently outlined a battery of improvements at St. Vincent’s Blount, indicating that they constitute important milestones for the county hospital. He gave the update at the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Sept. 11. Ray is president and chief operating officer of rural operations for St. Vincent’s Health System and executive in charge at St. Vincent’s Blount.

He said St. Vincent’s Blount has been designated a Critical Access Hospital, which certifies it to receive cost-based reimbursement from Medicare and lays the groundwork for expansion into new health services for the area. Such services include:

•creation of a hospitalist program – providing a physician or physicians who specialize in treating hospitalized patients of other physicians in order to minimize the number of hospital visits by other physicians

•addition of a Swing Bed program – a program that allows beds in small, rural hospitals to be used either for acute (regular hospital) care or long-term, skilled nursing care, depending on needs of the community.

•addition of an O/P infusion clinic – a service allowing patients to receive treatments and therapies on a one-time or repeated basis as an outpatient; examples of such services are IV therapy, scans, catheterization, suture removal, dressing changes, and more.

•addition of a vein clinic – specialized unit to treat problems associated with varicose veins.

“This is a big deal,” Ray said in summary. “We are very excited to be able to offer these new services to the people of Blount County.”

Serving as hosts and hostesses at the luncheon were the Cleveland Elementary Ambassadors, who also presented part of a program highlighting the Blount County Education Foundation’s upcoming Radio-thon. One member of the group, Madison Love, also spoke, describing the Ambassador program, modeled on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The program’s features include working on community service projects, tracking and accepting responsibility for their own classroom performance, and engaging in a number of characterbuilding activities.