South Shore Hospital entered the 21st century with its sights firmly set on the future. In 2000, the Hospital broke ground on a $65 million expansion of surgery, maternity, and emergency programs - the most significant construction project in the Hospital's nearly 80-year history.
This future planning occurred at a time of diminishing government support, workforce issues, and other negative pressures that dramatically affected all hospitals. Yet, South Shore continued to make a difference, offering patients the high-quality, comprehensive, sophisticated care and services of a regional medical center. Market share information for 2000 listed South Shore as the sixth busiest hospital in the state for births, with nearly 4,000 babies born yearly; the fourth busiest emergency room in the state, with more than 71,000 visits; the third largest home health/hospice service in the state; the largest acute health care provider in the region; and the fifth largest employer in the region, with 3,000 employees.
Advances made in specific areas are outlined below.
In 2000, emergency services expanded for the seventh time in three years with the opening of the Extended Diagnostic and Treatment Center (EDTC). The EDTC features 13 private rooms for emergency patients requiring extensive testing and monitoring to determine if their diagnosis is serious, including those with chest pain, pulmonary problems, or possible allergic reactions.
Emergency department staffing was enhanced in 2000 with the addition of case managers who work to assure that patients who need ongoing care receive it in the appropriate setting, in a timely manner. Certain clinical protocols were also enhanced, including evaluating chest pain/cardiac patients in anticipation of performing primary angioplasty and cardiac surgery in the future. New protocols for all elderly patients were also instituted with the assistance of a Massachusetts General Hospital-affiliated gerontologist.
In 2001, the ED began serving as a training site for second-year emergency medicine residents from the Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The surgical department introduced several new procedures in 2000, including transilluminated powered phlebectomy for treating serious varicose vein problems; use of a programmable shunt - the newest method of treating hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain); performing vascular surgery such as carotid endarterectomy (a procedure to help prevent strokes); and performing laparoscopic double hernia repair.
In 2001, the surgical staff grew to include thoracic specialists who are also on the medical staff of Brigham and Women's Hospital.
In 2003, the Dr. James A. and Mary Lynd Dolphin Surgical Center opened, featuring 14 new operating rooms with the latest technology and equipment. The Hospital also opened a new central processing and distribution department in the lower level of the F.X. Messina Center that sterilizes, inspects, and prepares all surgical instruments and other equipment.
In 2000, the Hospital convinced the State Legislature to create a process to allow community hospitals to perform open-heart surgery, a procedure performed successfully in community hospitals throughout the rest of the United States.
South Shore also applied to the Department of Public Health to perform primary angioplasty on patients who have had heart attacks and need immediate access to the procedure, which opens closed arteries. The Hospital received approval in Spring 2001 and performed 23 such procedures in the first year.
Also in 2001, the Hospital - in partnership with Brigham and Women's Hospital - began the region's first cardiac electrophysiology (EP) service to study and correct patients' abnormal and often-lethal heart rhythms.
In 2000, a sentinel lymph node biopsy surgical protocol was initiated for the breast health program, enabling surgeons to diagnose the extent to which cancer may have spread through a patient's lymphatic system using a less invasive procedure. The breast health program also took part in a clinical trial for breast cancer prevention, assessing the effectiveness of two medications, Tamoxifen and Raloxifene.
For patients with prostate cancer, we introduced prostate brachytherapy, also known as prostate seed implant therapy. The therapy involves placing tiny radioactive seeds into the prostate gland. The seeds emit just enough low-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells in the prostate gland while generally leaving the rest of the body unharmed.
In 2000, the Hospital introduced a Hospitalist program in the routine application of "best practices" and to standardize care across the continuum. Hospitalists are hospital-based internists who coordinate care for patients who may not have primary care physicians or whose doctors may not be able to visit them in the hospital as often as necessary. Hospitalists oversee patient care from admission to discharge, ordering tests and treatments, and keeping patients and their physicians fully informed and involved. In 2001, the program expanded to include eight internists, specializing in around-the-clock care of hospitalized patients.
In 2000, the Foundation raised $2.67 million in outright gifts plus another $1.96 million in pledges. The Foundation also organized committees to launch The Promise Campaign to fund equipment, technology, and furnishings for the expansion of the Hospital's maternity/surgery/emergency services. Committees were organized and leaders named to chair groups to raise funds from those key groups closest to the Hospital, including employees, medical staff, businesses, and "advanced gifts" - gifts in excess of $100,000.
Area businesses donated nearly $600,000 in FY00, and pledged more than $1 million in future support. At the close of that fiscal year, 44 businesses had joined the Presidents' Circle, pledging $25,000 or more to fund the campaign, and Medallion Club membership grew to 19 businesses, each pledging $3,000 or more. The Friends renewed its commitment to donate a minimum of $500,000 to the Hospital. The Friends' two gift shops generated net sales of $700,000, up $200,000 from the previous year.
In 2001, the Foundation raised $3.1 million in cash and in-kind gifts, the most since its creation in 1987. Support from businesses in the region was formidable, well beyond national levels. The Promise Campaign attracted nearly $1.2 million in funding from foundations, including several that gave to the Hospital for the first time, or at record levels.
In 2002, more than 10,000 individuals, families, businesses, foundations, and other donors gave nearly $4 million in outright gifts. At fiscal year-end, more than 90 percent of the $16 million minimum goal for The Promise Campaign had been pledged or donated.
The Phoenix Project was initiated in 2000 to enhance information systems throughout the Hospital. Milestones included a comprehensive evaluation of the Hospital's current and future information technology needs and an evaluation of possible vendors. Medical Information Technology, Inc. (MEDITECH) software was chosen to replace many of the applications used throughout the organization.
In 2001, MEDITECH was successfully introduced to enhance financial operations and human resources management. An onsite computer-training center also opened to assist employees, physicians, and volunteers. Strong progress was also made with the SEA Net initiative, designed to improve connectivity and the flow of information to physicians' offices. More than 50 physician offices now have a secure electronic link to the Hospital for the transmission of critical patient information.
In 2001, we expanded our ability to care for increased numbers of patients by converting an on-site 23-bed acute rehabilitation unit to a full-service medical/surgical nursing unit. In 2002, a total of 80 new physicians and allied health professionals joined the medical staff. South Shore Hospital became the first community hospital in Massachusetts to receive state approval to establish a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the highest level of care for frail infants. The 10-bed unit opened in mid-2003.
In 2003, the Hospital completed the most significant expansion of its physical plant and services in its history: a $65-million construction program to expand maternity, emergency, and surgical services. The project was in direct response to the increasing demand for those hospital services by area residents. The expansion enabled the Hospital to accommodate 4,800 births, an additional 2,600 inpatient and outpatient surgical cases, and 75,000 emergency department visits by 2004.
The project included constructing a three-story (plus a full story underground), 124,000-square-foot addition, adjacent the Emilson Center, and renovating another 26,000 square feet of existing space. The maternity expansion created an additional 18 postpartum beds, 16 well-baby bassinets, 13 Level II (special care) nursery bassinets, six antepartum beds, three labor-delivery-recovery (LDR) rooms, and two operating rooms.
Expansion of the surgical program included constructing 14 new operating rooms, all designed and equipped for complex cases. These suites include the latest technologies, as well as a flexible, integrated recovery room space for patients recovering from both inpatient and outpatient procedures.