CIRCLEVILLE — The Berger Health System Board hosted a presentation Monday evening on the future of the hospital now that citizens have voted to transform it into a not-for-profit organization.
John Edgar, member of the Berger Board of Governors, along with Tim Colburn, President and CEO of Berger Health System, led the majority of the discussion with an accompanying slideshow.
“We’ve come together because for a long time, we’ve been talking about this journey of changing the ownership of Berger Health System,” Edgar said. “The board has worked very hard to create a partnership with OhioHealth. What we want to do is talk about the journey that’s happened, especially since we have some folks that are new to the discussion.”
Edgar and Colburn presented the local, state and national landscapes as they relate to healthcare and presenting metrics on the quality of healthcare provided, service provided, the work culture and the hospital’s financials before concluding with where Berger Health System needs to go.
Colburn noted the goals of the partnership Berger Health will form with a larger organization, such as OhioHeath. He said those goals are to expand local primary and secondary care, increase access to talent, improve financial performance and longterm stability, enhance quality of care and patient safety and satisfaction, increase access to new era competencies, and to build on Berger’s 87-year legacy of service to the community.
“These six goals have be come a living, breathing document, and we have a dashboard of metrics we track to assess the goals,” Colburn said. “At the top we need to expand local primary and secondary, and at the end the culture of this organization after almost 90 years needs to stand. The board was adamant those were the bookends.”
Among the highlights of the presentation, Colburn shared a five-year history of the accomplishments of Berger Health System, including recruitment of a neurologist, OhioHealth’s $1 million investment in the community and the implementation if the eICU, a form of telemedicine where patients can be monitored from outside their hospital room to provide an extra layer of care.
In addition to their accomplishments, Colburn took the time to give a perspective on the health system and go over the metrics they use to assess the organization’s goals. There were several slides on finances, but Colburn said that’s not what drives the care patients receive.
“We don’t work the organization from a financial side; we work our organization from what you just saw,” he said. “We do things right in quality, focus on patient experience and a culture of people who will do those right things. Bottom line, the rest just takes care of itself and has worked very well.”
Following the presentation, Edgar took questions from those in attendance. One person asked how the hospital will maintain transparency with the public while also not showing all their cards to OhioHealth during partnership negotiations.
“We are working diligently together to make this happen,” Edgar said. “Obviously, we can’t share trade secrets that we would use to negotiate. It’s going to be a balancing act as we transition through it. We’re working with a specialist in communication to help us do it and do it well.”
Colburn added that Berger has shown in the past its willingness to publish information, specifically referencing the ballot issue this past November.
“I would ask the public to trust what we’ve done most recently as a predictor of what we will do in the future,” he said.
In addition to the question on transparency, Edger took a question on what the public should take away from the meeting, which is that they want healthcare options to stay local.
“As a citizen of Circleville I’d characterize it as healthcare is changing and that healthcare stays in Circleville,” he said. “In Pickaway County we want to make sure services are available across our county. We want to have a partner that will be a part of that. Our partner so far, OhioHealth, has maintained that. We intend to go to Columbus and tell that story to them and see their response.”