Hutcheson Says Increase In Subspecialty Physician Services Bringing Rise In Patients

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hutcheson Medical Center officials said the facility is growing its subspecialty physician services, and it has brought an increase in the volume of patients the hospital treats.

Officials said, "And one statistic that correlates with its expansion of subspecialty services and patient volume is the case mix index, a reflection of how medically complex a hospital’s inpatient population is."

A hospital’s case mix index is broken down into a Medicare index for patients over the age of 65, and an overall case mix index that includes patients of all ages, it was stated.

Sandra Siniard, chief nursing officer at Hutcheson, said, “In May, our Medicare case mix index was 1.396, which is the second highest Medicare index we’ve ever reported at the hospital.

“Patients of Medicare age are typically sicker and their index is generally higher than the overall case mix index. So it was surprising to see that May’s overall index, which includes patients of all ages, was at an all-time high of 1.348.”

Tim Ashburn, the medical director of pulmonology and critical care at Hutcheson, said, “There’s a misconception out there that community hospitals treat patients that aren’t that sick, and I can tell you that is absolutely not true.”

he said he attributes the hospital’s expansion of subspecialty services as the reason why sicker patients are choosing to go to Hutcheson instead of to a Chattanooga-area hospital. He said, “We have pulmonology, cardiology, general surgery, orthopedics, gastroenterology, and hospitalists at Hutcheson, and that allows us to treat 90% of all medical issues that come through our emergency department instead of having to transfer patients out to larger hospitals. We treat some really sick patients here and the doctors and nurses do a great job of getting them well and back home.”

“I’m really encouraged about the hospital’s expansion of physician services,” stated Farrell Hayes, president and CEO of Hutcheson. “We are a community hospital and our goal is to offer broad, comprehensive medical services for residents in Walker, Dade, and Catoosa.”

He said the hospital is currently looking to add neurology to its existing medical service offering.

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