Health care organizations predict healthy 2016


Kris Tennant is the director of Mary Free Bed at Sparrow, which was recently launched in Lansing. Courtesy Mary Free Bed

The past year was filled with announcements from the area’s health care leaders. It seemed as soon as a ribbon-cutting occurred, a new multi-million-dollar project was announced.

In addition, several health care organizations announced new training programs, partnerships and community outreach efforts, welcomed new clinicians and staff, and highlighted other improvements to the services they offer.

So it’s not a surprise that when asked for their “crystal ball” predictions for 2016, health care organizations expressed excitement and optimism — and promised the momentum wouldn’t stop.

Mike Faas, Metro Health president and CEO, said after finishing 2015 “on a high note,” the health system is poised for growth.

“Metro’s medical staff is growing, and Metro Health Village continues to develop,” he said.

In February, Metro Health will begin offering urgent care, laboratory and imaging services at its Metro Health Park East location, 4055 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids. These new services will join the Wound Healing Center, which opened last month, and the Surgery Center, which opened in January 2014, at the facility.

“By the end of 2016, we expect to complete filling the 82,000-square-foot building,” Faas said.

Metro Health will also continue to focus on improvements to its level of care, Faas said. He noted Metro’s emergency department would pursue verification from the American College of Surgeons as a Level 2 Trauma Center, and its cardiologists would continue “advancing the field of endovascular interventional cardiology and limb salvage.”

“We will continue to host doctors from across the United States and around the world at courses that teach them how to open tiny peripheral arteries and veins and help their patients avoid amputation,” he said.

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital saw several projects completed in 2015, including the opening of its new $42 million facility, the first phase of a $66.4 million expansion and renovation. The project added 87 inpatient beds and allowed the hospital to introduce new therapy programs.

Kent Riddle, Mary Free Bed CEO, said in the year ahead, the hospital is looking forward to being able to treat significantly more patients.

“We look forward to another record-breaking year,” Riddle said. “The increased number of beds in our new hospital, (which went) from 80 to 167 inpatient beds, and the creation of additional programs enables us to serve more people who need rehabilitation. We hope to treat an additional 500 inpatients and significantly more outpatients at our Grand Rapids campus (in 2016).”

Renovation work will continue on the remaining $24.4 million project, which is expected to be completed in 2017.

The Mary Free Bed network includes 27 hospitals across the state, and Riddle said the hospital would continue its statewide expansion into new communities and focus on growth nationally through the introduction of sub-specialized programs.

Mary Free Bed recently completed a project in Lansing as part of a joint venture with Sparrow Hospital. Riddle said he is excited to see Mary Free Bed at Sparrow reach its full potential.

“We renovated the environment, created private rooms and increased the number of beds from 24 to 40,” he said.

Riddle said in 2016, Mary Free Bed will continue to debut new programs for its patients.

“The first to roll out will be cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, followed by a program for patients who are on ventilators,” Riddle said. “We already take care of patients with heart and lung rehabilitation needs, but we’re increasing our ability to treat patients with congestive heart failure and help reduce their hospitalizations.”

Tina Freese-Decker, president of Spectrum Health Hospitals, said Spectrum would spend 2016 working to “develop innovative solutions to improve the health of our community and reduce the per capita cost of care.”

“Many of our initiatives are focused to achieve these outcomes,” she said.

One such initiative is MedNow, a virtual health service that enables patients to connect with providers through video visits and secure messaging.

Spectrum spent 2015 testing the program on a limited basis, and it will promote the program more widely in 2016, hoping to grow it to 5,000 to 10,000 patients annually.

“MedNow is a cost effective and convenient option for patients to receive care,” Freese-Decker said.

Freese-Decker said Spectrum is also expanding its primary care services by opening two new integrated care campuses in 2016, in Ionia and Muskegon counties.

Mercy Health Muskegon announced this past fall it would restart its $271 million medical center project in Muskegon. Its parent company, Trinity Health, approved plans for a 267-bed medical center on the existing Mercy campus at 1500 E. Sherman Blvd.

The project also includes plans for urgent care services in the existing emergency department and an outpatient center at the Hackley campus.

Major site work is slated to begin in spring, with completion slated for 2018 and 2019.

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services announced the completion of the Ruth & Jack Loeks Psychiatry Residency Center in October, which will serve as an outpatient training center for MSU College of Human Medicine psychiatry residents. It will also serve as a training center for Pine Rest’s newly announced physician assistant psychiatry residency program, which will welcome its first class in July.

Pine Rest will join Mercy Health, Cherry Health, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids Community College, Muskegon Community College, Montcalm Community College and West Michigan Works to introduce a new U.S. Department of Labor-approved medical assistant apprenticeship program. The first class of students will begin this month.

“There is a huge need in the community for medical assistants,” said Linda Witte, program developer and manager of health programs for GRCC Workforce Development. “As employers are growing, the number of physicians to take care of the increased number of people who are eligible for health care, they need staff, and that would be medical assistants.”

Hospice of Michigan closed 2015 with the announcement that it has entered into an affiliation with Ann Arbor-headquartered Arbor Hospice & Palliative Care, which took effect Jan. 1.

“Working together, we will be the largest nonprofit provider of hospice and palliative care services in the state, serving more than 2,200 patients a day in 58 counties across the Lower Peninsula,” said Marcie Hillary, executive director of Hospice of Michigan-West Michigan.

Hospice of Michigan also plans to roll out new programs this year.

“We will unveil a statewide program to bring music to patients suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as strengthen our current programs that gather and memorialize patient stories,” Hillary said. “Additionally, the Hospice of Michigan Institute — the first institute in Michigan focused exclusively on end of life — will launch new medical studies focused on pain and shortness of breath. The Hospice of Michigan Institute also plans to announce a partnership designed to help patients with ALS have better and easier access to physicians.”

Grand Rapids will also see the start of phase 1 oncology clinical trials this year, thanks to the addition of START Midwest, which joined the community in December.

The Cancer and Hematology Center of Western Michigan is partnering with San Antonio-based South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics, better known as START, on START Midwest, which will be housed at the Lemmen-Holt Cancer Pavilion, 145 Michigan St. NE.

Dennis Zoet, senior director of business development and operations at CHCWM, said he expects pharmaceutical companies already working with the Van Andel Institute to begin reaching out to START Midwest in 2016.

Finally, work will continue on the $88.1-million MSU Research Center at the corner of Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue, slated to open at the end of 2017.

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