St. LukesWith all of the regulatory and administrative changes occurring over the past year, UnityPoint Health–St. Luke’s Hospital has remained focused on patient care.
Mandated changes included the transition to electronic health records and the implementation of a new medical coding system by last October, and the state’s shifting of Medicaid to private care organizations in April. UnityPoint Health also embarked on conversions of its entire accounting, payroll and human resources systems over that time.
“It’s been a fairly hectic year,” President and CEO Ted Townsend said. “Those things never come without difficulties or challenges. Trying to get ready for the continued changes in the marketplace take up a lot of our time and energy.”
The goal of the hospital’s management and administrative teams is making sure health care providers “don’t have a whole lot to worry about other than taking care of the patients,” he said.
While the conversion of the medical coding system to the much more complex ICD-10 did involve physicians and caregivers, the process went smoothly.
“Within 30 days we were right back up to our typical volume of patient care,” Mr. Townsend said. “I think we handled that one extremely well.”
Looking forward, UnityPoint continues to expand its urgent care and outpatient facilities, including a new clinic on the west side of Cedar Rapids. Its Marion clinic will also be expanded.
This fall, St. Luke’s Hospital also plans to offer a new heart procedure: transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. The less-invasive procedure doesn’t require open-heart surgery, and will be offered by a multi-disciplinary team of physicians from UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology and surgical specialists from Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa.
“That will be a significant advantage for people here in Eastern Iowa when it comes to heart services,” Mr. Townsend said.
Regionally, a significant expansion was recently completed at UnityPoint’s Jones Regional Medical Center in Anamosa. An urgent care center was also added in Jones County.
With shortages in health care workers across the region and nation, St. Luke’s is constantly working to improve its recruitment and retention strategies, Mr. Townsend said. The hospital’s first and foremost strategy is providing competitive wages and benefits, he said. It also has a strong social media presence when it comes to promoting job opportunities.
UnityPoint Health works with nursing schools and other educational institutions to generate interest, and provide additional training in the health care field.
“We work collaboratively on a lot of educational fronts to try to train the next generation of providers,” Mr. Townsend said. “By being an active teaching hospital, not only are we trying to help develop the next generation of caregivers, but it also typically allows us to get a leg up on finding talented people that might be interested in working in Eastern Iowa.”
To retain employees, St. Luke’s strives to provide a healthy work environment, Mr. Townsend said, adding that the Cedar Rapids region of UnityPoint Health’s eight major regions across Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa has the highest associate satisfaction.
“I think when you have people who feel they are engaged and respected, they will provide better patient care, and we are very proud of the fact that we have the best associate satisfaction within the entire system,” he said.
All 3,700 associates in the Cedar Rapids region continually challenge themselves to improve their performance year after year, he said.
“We are always trying to get better tomorrow than we are today.”
– Angela Holmes
4 Times on Best of List

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