Jakacki gives insight into ProMedica plans and future of Herrick Hospital

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Tim Jakacki, President of ProMedica Herrick and Bixby Hospitals, says Tecumseh may have the ‘best of both worlds’ in its community hospital, with a personal, small town perspective and access to care at the larger facilities when needed. Photo by Deb Wuethrich.

While some people look first to Ann Arbor or Toledo when they are in need of medical services, others still turn to the community hospital that was built decades ago.

Tim Jakacki, President of ProMedica Herrick and Bixby Hospitals, believes in the benefits now available at the local level, especially as Herrick Hospital has evolved since its early days and is now in partnership with the much bigger system.

“It’s never been a very large hospital, but I think we have the best of both worlds here in Tecumseh,” said Jakacki. He believes Herrick Hospital is a benefit to everybody who lives here and to those who vacation in the area because there is access to emergency services and other types of things that a community hospital can typically provide.

“We’re a full service hospital, providing general surgery, diagnostic imaging, in-patient care and other things that we do — and do well,” Jakacki said. “But when the situation requires a higher level of care, we can refer them as part of a bigger system because we have direct access to those kinds of services.”

ProMedica Health Care System, a $2.2 billion company, is 12 hospitals strong in Ohio and Michigan, and employs approximately 15,000 individuals. Of those, 1,139 are employed in Michigan, including ProMedica physicians and Continuum Services employees. The hospital is one of the largest employers in Tecumseh with 260 staff members, and 700 employees work at Bixby Hospital.

Like other entities in the health care industry, hospitals are facing challenges and Jakacki said ProMedica Herrick Hospital is no exception.

“Some of the changes are in part due to the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “Even prior to the enactment, we as an industry recognized that some things had to change and we’d already started down that path. The way it was going wasn’t sustainable.”

Jakacki said that realization brought about the sense that the organization needed to step back and focus on its core mission.

“For us, that is ‘to improve your health and well being,’” said Jakacki. “It’s pretty simple, but inclusive and encompassing.”

That focus brought about a few changes at Herrick Hospital in recent years, one of them being the removal of an obstetrics department from the hospital and centralizing those services at Bixby.

“In all honesty, when we closed that department at ProMedica Herrick, it was in order to enforce efficiencies and try to centralize certain services so we could ensure a higher quality of care and improve patient experience,” said Jakacki.

At the same time, the hospital enhanced other services for women through the more recently added Women’s Health Center. While mammograms may still be done at Bixby, Jakacki said most now come through Herrick Hospital.

“We prefer to do them here because we’ve centralized those types of services in an effort to enforce quality and expertise and to ensure a better quality outcome for the patient experience,” he said. Keeping up with changes in technologies is one way that ProMedica has demonstrated its commitment, and the Women’s Health Center is one of the beneficiaries of that, Jakacki added, such as with its embrace of digital imaging technology a few years ago.

“We’re actually doing some fundraising right now to replace some of our mammography equipment with the most current state of the art equipment to do tomosynthesis, which provides a better 3-D type image,” Jakacki said. More than 5,500 mammograms were conducted there in 2013, and 84 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed.

ProMedica Herrick Hospital’s Emergency Department is also able to provide important first steps for various conditions, and is a Primary Stroke Center with a multidisciplinary team administering TPA (a crucial drug) to appropriate patients within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital if they are determined to be having a stroke.

“And that’s where our access comes back into play, because once they are stabilized, we can connect them to specialists such as neurologists at one of our larger facilities,” said Jakacki. “We are a community hospital and nobody should ever think we are going to do open heart surgery or transplants here, but what we do, we do well, and I believe that’s because we are supported by a system that does provide us with the technology and resources for the type of care provided here.”

ProMedica Herrick Hospital’s Emergency Department saw 12,215 visits in 2013, with door-to-physician time of 11 minutes, and an average length of stay being approximately two hours.

It is ProMedica’s commitment to Lenawee County that Jakacki said led to the purchase of property at Mission Pointe at 5640 N. Adrian Highway.

“We have two aging facilities here and there are probably parts of both that are okay, but there are significant parts that are less okay,” said Jakacki. “We had to do some due diligence that led to the idea of combining the two facilities as we looked into the future as it relates to trying to make things more efficient and providing the best health care for the people of Lenawee County.”

Jakacki expects the planning process regarding the property could begin as early as this year.

“It would be very preliminary, but we could absolutely start looking at areas such as how do we develop that land as a health care campus? Where would we place the buildings, and what type of services might we locate there?” he said. “But part of that decision will have to be what happens to the facilities we vacate. Do we repurpose them? I think the answer to that for Herrick Hospital is that we think there’s a lot of good space here that we could repurpose and use, so we’ll need to make decisions on what would be the best use.”

Although he could not answer when the company might be “turning dirt” on the new campus, he said that would depend on a continued look at the total impact of the Affordable Care Act, the state and federal economy, and availability of capital.

“That decision is not anything I personally have a role in, but the company has to do the appropriate planning,” he said. “And I feel ProMedica is committed to Lenawee County. They would not have made the investment they have if they did not believe in what they are doing.”




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