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Centegra Health System: Feedback makes us better

In recent months, community members have shared their opinions about local health care services in newspaper articles, letters to the editor and on social media. As physician leaders at Centegra Health System, we have thoughtfully considered your views because feedback from our patients makes us better. The majority of Centegra Health System’s providers live in this community and take pride in caring for our friends and neighbors. Although some community members might perceive Centegra Health System’s recently announced changes as negative or unnecessary, our willingness and ability to change when necessary has made it possible for our hospitals to provide care for more than 100 years.

In June, Centegra Health System shared plans to close acute inpatient care at Centegra Hospital – Woodstock. The benefits of this change extend far beyond the financial, reaching the bedside of every hospitalized patient. It is better to receive care in hospitals where that care is frequently and routinely provided. When population growth slowed and we began to experience lower volumes at Centegra Hospital – Woodstock, we sought a consolidation solution that would benefit patients and protect the jobs of bedside care providers.

People who need acute inpatient services – the kind you need for an illness, major surgery or to have a baby – now receive care from physicians who specialize in 24/7 inpatient care at Centegra Hospital – McHenry and Centegra Hospital – Huntley. Hospitalists specialize in treating hospitalized patients, and intensivists are physicians who are trained and board certified in the care of critically ill people who are in the intensive care unit.

These doctors work closely with your primary care provider to ensure you get the inpatient care you need. In the event that a woman needs emergency obstetrics/gynecology care, Centegra Hospital – McHenry is the area’s only provider to have OB-GYN hospitalists in house around the clock, and Centegra Hospital – Huntley provides partial OB-GYN hospitalist coverage. We also partner with Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital to provide pediatric hospitalists at Centegra Hospital – Huntley so the community’s children have 24/7 access to the best inpatient pediatrics care.

Most of the leading hospitals in the nation use the hospitalist model, and Centegra’s results are clear: Centegra Hospital – McHenry, where the hospitalist and intensivist programs began, was ranked among the top 2 percent of hospitals in the nation this year for quality.

The hospitalist model’s exceptional outcomes led us to make it mandatory when we opened Centegra Hospital – Huntley that all providers who are employed by Centegra Physician Care use the hospitalist service. This model already was in place, and very successful, for seven years at Centegra Hospital – McHenry. With a hospitalist model, if you are hospitalized, your Centegra primary care physician transfers responsibility for your care to an inpatient specialist. Your primary care physician has around-the-clock access to your medical charts, and they still might choose to visit you in the hospital. Independent physicians on Centegra’s medical staff also have the option to work with the hospitalist team. It is important to note that the hospitalist model is an investment in quality, not a revenue generator, for the health system.

Whether they are employed by Centegra or are independent providers, all physicians who have patients in the intensive care unit must have their care plans approved by intensivists. This helps us maintain consistent, high-quality care for every patient who is admitted to the ICU. 

Although there have been changes in inpatient services, Centegra continues to provide advanced emergency services at Centegra Hospital – Woodstock. The hospital’s emergency room remains staffed by the same board-certified emergency physicians and highly skilled nurses, and the department is a certified chest pain center, a certified stroke center and is an emergency department approved for pediatrics. Our team provides life-saving care every day for patients who arrive with symptoms such as chest pain, lacerations, broken bones, sprains, abdominal pain, mental illness, asthma, allergic reactions, fainting and vomiting. 

We continue to recommend that you call 911 for heart attack symptoms, because (as always) emergency responders will determine whether you should be transferred directly to Centegra Hospital – Huntley, where there is a cardiac catheterization laboratory, or Centegra Hospital – McHenry, which is home to our cardiac surgery program. Although the majority of patients are treated and released from the Woodstock emergency room, in the event that a patient needs surgery or an overnight stay, they will be transferred to another hospital. This is no different than what we have done since 2010 for Woodstock emergency department patients in need of a higher level of care for heart conditions.

The best way to ensure that community members get well and stay well is to provide access to high-quality services within a reasonable drive. Centegra encourages patients to establish strong relationships with their primary care physicians, because the outpatient setting is where most patients receive their care. We will continue to provide outpatient care in communities throughout McHenry County, with specialized inpatient services such as cardiac surgery, joint replacement surgery, cancer care, behavioral health, weight-loss surgery and comprehensive physical rehabilitation being provided in locations where we centralize our expertise. As we look ahead, we will continue to develop new programs and grow our existing services to meet the needs of our community.

At Centegra, we focus on our patients’ needs. We combine heartfelt communication with best practices and hard science. Our physicians, Magnet-accredited nurses and other team members are passionate about bringing you the care you need, close to home. We make difficult decisions to provide services right here in our county so you and your loved ones can focus on getting well and staying well.

Our ability to evolve has allowed us to care for this community for more than 100 years. It is a privilege to serve you, and to bring compassionate, state-of-the-art services to patients throughout our area.

• Dr. Pasquale Bernardi, president, Centegra Physician Care

• Dr. Irfan Hafiz, senior vice president, chief medical and chief medical information officer

• Dr. Kumar Nathan, president, Huntley hospital and Centegra clinical effectiveness

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