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‘A positive difference’

Posted: May 8, 2013 3:31 p.m.
Updated: May 10, 2013 5:00 a.m.

I would like to take a few minutes and write a brief letter suggesting that our community take some time to concentrate on all the good things our hospital has stood for the past 100 years.

I have been employed at our hospital as a pharmacist for the past 35 years and have seen firsthand many of the positive things that have occurred here for our community. Not only has our hospital been such a factor in my personal life and my working career, but my wife is a nurse in the operating room area, and one of my daughters is a nurse in ICU. When I was in high school in Kershaw in the ’70s, I determined that I wanted to attend pharmacy school and then work at our hospital in Camden. Even at that time in my life, I was very impressed with the high reputation of this hospital, and felt if I was lucky enough to get a job here, I would never leave. In the early ’90s, this hospital encouraged me and helped me to go back to graduate school at the University of South Carolina and earn my doctorate degree in pharmacy. After obtaining my graduate degree, I found many doors opening to me to change careers including invitations to become part of the faculty at USC, obtaining a clinical position in large prestigious hospitals along the east coast, and other potential challenging opportunities.

However, I was and am still awestruck at the opportunity that we have in this smaller hospital to really make a positive difference in the provision of local healthcare. I feel a sense of reward and pride that I feel I would never get at another hospital. There is a culture at our hospital in Camden that our workforce is made up of many lifelong residents of our area, along with others who have moved here and fell in love with the community and love this hospital. We all get the huge opportunity to take good care of our family, neighbors, church members, and friends when they need it most. There is probably not a day that goes by that I don’t see a patient in the hospital that has been a lifelong friend, a loved relative, or someone I have known for 20-30 years or longer. Every one of these patients, and all the ones I don’t know, deserves the very best health care we can provide them in our community. I go home each evening satisfied that we at KershawHealth have provided the best care we can along with a compassion and love that is not found at most hospitals. I constantly hear of our staff going above and beyond what is required to assure that every patient at our hospital gets this special care we want to be known for. Almost daily our staff takes the time to do the little personal things that make a difference to someone in this time of need. I often see letters to the newspaper or delivered directly to our hospital from families thanking different areas of our hospital for outstanding and very compassionate care during their time of need. Each time I am filled with gratitude that I can be a part of an organization like this, and in some small way have had a part in making a positive difference in our patients’ lives. In our pharmacy department meetings we often talk about staying focused on every activity we do, as we know someone’s mother, someone’s child, and someone loved by others receives the result of our actions all day long.

The staff of the hospital is made up of many people such as the director of our information technology department, who I have known since we were in the first grade together in Kershaw, to nurses I was in school with or their children who were in my Boy Scout troop when I was a scoutmaster for many years, and others who love this hospital and its vision as much as I do. Every day, I walk by the labor and delivery department where my daughter was born over 20 years ago. There I still see many of the nurses who were here that shared that time in my life. Daily, I see the ICU where some of my loved ones received excellent care when they were critically ill. Daily, I see the ED where there are memories of hospital staff’s love, compassion, and kindness shown my family when things happened in our life that were beyond our control. I share some of my family memories as I am sure a large number of our community has, and through their life experiences have also developed a similar bond with our hospital.

The last several years have indeed brought about a different climate, not only in healthcare, but also in all businesses. The poor economy, particularly in South Carolina, caused quite a struggle in our hospital to find ways to keep the hospital in a strong financial position. Our hospital, like many others in the state and nation, experienced several “layoffs” as our hospital learned to do even more with less. I was particularly impressed during this time that our administration made a bold decision. All the financial indicators showed that the hospice service, because of new payment regulations, had become very unprofitable. There was much in the literature that nationwide, hospice operations were being eliminated in search of more profitable ventures. I recall our administration indicating that the decision was made at our local board level to keep our hospital’s hospice operations as part of our hospital’s plan to serve the community. Even though the financial outlook of this operation was dismal, it was determined that this service was very much needed in our community and would be continued despite the financial burden. It was discussed at hospital mid-management meetings that the interpretation was that hospice regulations would change at some point in the future and our hospital would keep this service going.

There was much discussion that if our hospital was not maintained as a locally controlled and “not for profit” organization, that these sorts of decisions would be made for us at some headquarters in some distant state by people who do not live in this area or even know much about our community, and the decisions would likely be for whatever created the most profit rather than what is good for our community.

In my long career at our hospital, I could provide many such related decisions that were made that had the benefit of the community in mind rather than where is the most profit. Having experienced and witnessed this concern for what is best for the community has further strengthened my desire to see this hospital continue its vision for another 100 years or longer. Recently, with changes with reimbursement, Obamacare, and other very significant changes the challenge of meeting our hospital’s vision will require all of us to work together at an even higher level, as hospitals will likely see an even further reduction in reimbursement and other challenges.

I urge all people who love our community and love our hospital to join in with the current focus on our hospital’s 100 year celebration of being such an important part of our lives. I ask that everyone involved with our hospital to continue to keep our minds focused on the hospital’s vision to be the preferred provider of quality, cost-effective personalized healthcare. I would also remind the community of the huge advantage and privilege we have of having one of the few “not for profit” hospitals and which still has the distinct advantage of being managed by our local community’s leadership. I have a great relationship with our excellent medical staff and have often been overwhelmed by our medical staff leadership, their dedication to their patients, and their fierceness to do what is best for those that are under their care. This is exactly what we want for our hospital.

I am writing this letter as someone who has lived in this area my entire life, and this hospital was important to me even before I chose to go to pharmacy school for an undergraduate degree in the ’70s. The views expressed are my personal views and are not necessarily those of my employer.

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