by Elizabeth Landry
Aerial view of Rome Medical Center, opened November 2022
Rome Health has always strived to provide excellent health care for those in the local community. As the tagline says, Rome Health aims to deliver “The best care out there. Here.”
Over the past few years, the organization has taken its approach to health care to a whole new level by redefining what it means to offer community-based health care that provides accessible and efficient care to all patients in the local community. The brand new, state-of the- art Rome Health Medical Center opened to patients in November 2022, and Rome Health has launched several other team-based initiatives that all contribute to enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved in the health care system.
When the team at Rome Health set out to begin enhancing the way health care is provided to the local area, everything centered on what would ultimately be most beneficial to those in the community.
“As we engage the local community here, it was clear very early on that what the community desired was to receive high-quality, cost effective care here locally without having to travel to other regions of the state or elsewhere,” said Cristian Andrade, M.D., and Chief Medical Officer at Rome Health.
“When we designed the medical center and the other projects we’re working on currently, really the central focus was the patient and local community needs.”
The new Medical Center delivers convenient care for patients by serving as a centralized entry point to all services, including primary care, pediatrics, specialty care, imaging needs and lab work. Many members of the team at Rome Health have seen first-hand how this accessible, efficient approach to health care has been a boon for patients in the community.
“I think just having new construction at Rome Health is very invigorating for the community,” said Ankur Desai, M.D., Chairman of the OB/GYN department. “It fortifies the fact that we have a very strong hospital system under our leadership. That’s very important for a hospital serving a local community. And the area we serve is rather large – it’s not just Rome. Having that new, modern construction is very important.
“Consolidating the services also enhances quality of service in terms of giving the patients flexibility and making it easy for them to get to where they need to go, not only for seeing their providers, but also with the ancillary services such as radiology, lab work and so on.”
This new space at the heart of Rome Health and the further innovations being planned also bring together providers from across the health care spectrum, allowing them to work together more cohesively in a truly team-based environment. The benefit of this setup is not only for the patients but also for the staff and the providers, themselves.
“We’re aiming to provide not only a better patient experience but also a better overall experience,” Ryan Thompson, Chief Operating Officer at Rome Health said. “It’s a better experience for the patients, the providers and the staff, which really makes it perfect for a thriving community. When you think about it, we’re not just approaching it from the perspective of one point of view, but rather it’s a holistic perspective for enhancing the entire care environment.”
Multidisciplinary Health Care Enhancements
Since Rome Health offers a robust care network including primary care, surgery and various specialties including, but not limited to, bariatrics, maternity, neurology, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology, it’s no surprise the variety of planned enhancement projects are multidisciplinary in nature and by design.
One of the planned enhancements at Rome Health is a new c-section suite that’s set to open at the end of spring or in early summer. Currently, patients who need a c-section have to go down four floors in order to reach the existing c-section suite. The new suite will be located adjacent to the maternal child services department on the fourth floor, providing a much more convenient and accessible experience for both patients and staff.
Thompson explained how Rome Health’s multidisciplinary approach was instrumental in getting the plans correct from the beginning of the process. “When we started the c section suite, we brought together teams from maternity, the OR, our central sterile department, building services, environmental services and many others,” he said. “In doing so, we were able to come up with a design that is thoughtful based on multistakeholder input.”
Another significant infrastructure improvement being planned at Rome Health also relates to surgery. About eight months ago, the team began putting designs together for a brand new operating room facility. In February 2023, Rome Health received a $26-million award from the New York State Department of Health, which will allow the current 1950s-era operating rooms to be replaced by a state-ofthe- art suite that will better match the high quality of surgical services Rome Health has offered to patients for many years. The new suite will include four operating rooms and will accommodate continuous advancements in surgical technology, including robotics and other complex surgical procedures.
“The benefit to the hospital and to the community of being able to modernize the infrastructure of our operating rooms is going to be tremendous,” said Dr. Desai. “We are doing the most modern surgery with the team of doctors and surgeons we have at present, and now that’s going to be reflected in the location in which we do our surgery. That’s a great injection of positivity for our community and for the hospital.”
Similar to the planning process for the new c section suite, the new operating room design plans have been multidisciplinary, with input from many different teams at Rome Health. “We had discussions with anesthesia providers, surgeons and many others right from the start,” said Ashley Edwards, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer at Rome Health. “We did some mock-ups and then revised them based on all the stakeholders’ feedback. Everyone has had input as to what is going to work best from the time patients are coming in the door all the way to the time they are either discharged or admitted upstairs.
It’s definitely been a multidisciplinary process, and we’re really excited for the final result.”
Also on the list of enhancements to surgery related spaces at Rome Health is the recent renovation of an entire section of patient care rooms in the Surgical Acute Care Unit on the second floor. The setup of the rooms wasn’t ideal for bariatric surgery patients specifically, so the team at Rome Health renovated the rooms from top to bottom, ensuring they would meet the needs of those patients
during their entire stay.
Additionally, new vital sign machines will be installed in patient rooms throughout Rome Health that will download directly into the electronic health record. These new machines will replace the current machines that have to be rolled from room to room, greatly improving efficiency and saving valuable time for the whole team.
However, perhaps the most significant investment at Rome Health has been focused on the actual team carrying out so many services for patients, as pointed out by Dr. Andrade. “One of the things we’ve invested in is our people,” he said. “We’ve put a lot of investment into provider recruitment, particularly in surgical sub-specialties that weren’t present locally here in Rome. We’ve also increased our access to primary care by recruiting primary care providers, both nurse practitioners and physicians, and we’ve also made sure we positioned ourselves to be able to recruit the highest talent and the most qualified folks to this community.”
National Recognitions for Quality Patient Care
In order to find evidence that Rome Health’s continued investments into its high-quality health care have been successful, you don’t have to look very far. The diverse team’s effort to implement processes that support consistent delivery of evidence-based care has been recognized by major organizations for several years.
U.S. News & World Report has named Rome Health as a High Performing hospital for Maternity Care (Uncomplicated Pregnancy), which is the highest award a hospital can earn from U.S. News & World Report for maternity care. The same organization also recognized Rome Health as a Best Nursing Home for the fourth year in a row.
Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield has selected the hospital as a Blue Distinction Center for several specialties, including spine surgery, bariatric surgery and maternity care. The Blue Distinction Center label signifies a commitment to delivering high-quality patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures determined by input from leading accreditation and quality organizations, as well as the medical community.
Speaking specifically about the maternity care awards, Dr. Desai highlighted how the team-based approach is at the heart of the great health care Rome Health provides. “These awards really tell you through and through about our team approach,” he said. “High performance has to do with patient care, with our delivery success, with breastfeeding and newborn care. So it incorporates not just what the providers do during deliveries, but the team approach with the nursing staff, as well. I don’t think one facet can work well without the other, and that is what gives us the good fortune of receiving such awards.”
Continuous Improvements Still to Come
Certainly, with many awards and accreditations under its belt, several enhancements already completed and even more planned for the future, Rome Health is delivering on its promise to provide excellent health care that meets the specific needs of patients in the local community. The multidisciplinary and team based approach for achieving accessibility and efficiency for patients in the community has laid the foundation for continuous improvements into the
For Thompson, summing up Rome Health’s plans going forward is really quite simple. “We’re going to continue to redefine what community-based health care means,” he said. “For us, our plan is to continue to engage in the community and find out where the needs are, and then align what we can do to help meet those needs,” he said. “I think it’s important to always go back to the context of our mission. Our mission is to provide quality health care with compassion. As a system, we want to ensure the best care out there is here, meeting the needs of the people in our community.”