As we celebrate Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s 120th anniversary, I have been reflecting on our history and deep ties to the
community. The original hospital was started by local pioneer doctors--Dr.
Belle Cooper Rinehart and Dr. Mary Powell Johnson--in the Rinehart family
home in The Dalles. We have come a long way from those early beginnings
to the comprehensive health system we have today. For over a century,
MCMC has continued to thrive and expand to meet our growing community’s
health care needs. And while 136 rural hospitals across the U.S. have
closed in recent years, we continue to look optimistically toward a bright
and fulfilling future.
MCMC was founded
by local residents
for local residents, and community support is just as important now as it was
back then. That is why I am launching this monthly message. There are
many exciting things taking place (or being planned) at MCMC, and I want
to make sure that our friends, neighbors, staff, volunteers, and the entire
community are kept up to date. Whether it’s great news or a discussion
on the challenging healthcare issues of the day, I hope you’ll take
a moment each month to read this column.
Bold Vision for the Future
MCMC has taken an important step toward a bright future for the community
– one that will reflect the best of what 21st century healthcare
has to offer.
Earlier this month, we made a presentation to the Wasco County Commission
to share our vision for a new hospital campus at Kramer Field that would
replace our existing facility, allowing us to increase access to the care
and services we provide. The County Commission supported our vision and
recognized the significant benefits to our community. If you missed that
click here for all the details.
There many questions still to be answered and there is a lot we do not
know today. We are just beginning to explore the idea of this vision.
We are committed to being open and transparent and will keep you informed
throughout this journey.
Working to Increase Health Equity
Non-medical factors can greatly influence health outcomes. These include
food security, access to transportation, health literacy and ability to
pay for needed medication. MCMC has made it a strategic priority to help
address these health inequities in our community.
This summer, we launched a comprehensive case management program designed
to help our community’s most vulnerable residents achieve better
health outcomes. Our new Patient Navigation Program promotes a one‐on‐one
relationship between a patient and navigator and includes services such
as locating free or low‐cost screenings, making transportation arrangements,
assisting in finding physicians and scheduling appointments; providing
health education, and helping to overcome other barriers associated with
poor health outcomes.
Once patients are identified, a case manager stays in contact with the
patient to assist them with their specific needs. Whether that is finding
a rehabilitation facility for a patient suffering from a substance abuse
disorder and chronic homelessness, or helping a young mother obtain health
insurance for her sick child, the Patient Navigation Program is already
making a difference in the lives of local residents.
MCMC will seek grants to continue to grow this much-needed program in our
Our Commitment to Planetree and Person-Centered Care
Twenty-nine years ago, MCMC was the first hospital in the nation to fully
integrate the Planetree philosophy of care, a holistic approach to healthcare
that emphasizes the need to address a person's intellectual, environmental,
emotional, and spiritual concerns in addition to their physical needs.
Planetree’s Person-Centered Care approach also promotes a healthy,
encouraging environment for caregivers and addresses the health needs
of the surrounding community.
We believe in these values and are taking steps to reaffirm our commitment
to them. During a recent site visit to MCMC, Planetree representatives
interviewed 108 staff members, patients and families. The Planetree team
then identified key areas for MCMC to focus on, such as implementing a
program for staff members to recognize and celebrate each other, ensuring
patients have access to their health information and are encouraged to
have discussions to help them fully comprehend the information, and gathering
patient and staff feedback on a regular basis. A Planetree Steering Committee
has been established to lead these efforts, and in 2022 all MCMC employees
will participate in Planetree training sessions.
The Planetree approach not only improves health outcomes, it has been shown
to positively effect the overall patient experience, as well as employee
satisfaction and retention. I look forward to sharing more about our Planetree
program very soon.
The questions I am most often asked are related to COVID-19. Not surprisingly,
the community has great interest in what has been the most challenging
healthcare experience of our lifetime. Thanks to our incredible staff,
MCMC has been able to remain open to care for our community – even
during the summer Delta surge. Every member of our team has played a role
in keeping our operations going, especially our Emergency Department staff
who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic since day one.
While case counts are going down, the virus is still spreading throughout
our community. As we approach the winter months and the holiday season,
please be mindful of your health and the health of others as you celebrate
with your family, friends and loved ones.
We have a lot to be thankful for; I wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.