This week, Southeastern Health and Southeastern Regional Medical Center join hospitals across our state in recognizing Hospital Week. It is a time for us to recognize the more than 2,200 dedicated employees who provide quality care to the patients and community we serve. We also take this opportunity to thank the 300-plus volunteers and trustees who donate their time and their talents to help our hospitals and health care affiliates thrive. Most importantly, it is a time to remember the patients we care for each and every day throughout the year.
We know that residents and visitors to our state depend on North Carolina’s hospitals. When the unexpected occurs and someone gets sick, or when the expected occurs and a new baby is born, SRMC is there for you and your family, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Last year, SRMC saw more than 68,000 patients in our Emergency Department, delivered 1,527 babies, and performed more than 6,700 outpatient surgeries. When you need education on how to improve your health or assistance in recovering at home, SRMC is there to help.
Hospitals across our state are committed to a singular mission — to provide quality care to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. In a time of great change and scrutiny of health care delivery and health care costs, I am proud of our staff for rising to the challenge of managing costs without sacrificing the quality of care that people have come to expect from us.
SRMC is committed to being accountable for quality and cost-effectiveness benchmarks. We have put business strategies like “Lean” in place to reduce waste and improve performance and are actively working to engage patients and families in care planning in and out of the hospital.
At the same time, our organization is adjusting to the Affordable Care Act and other federal changes in health care funding. Contrary to what many people may think, hospitals charge every patient the same amount for the services we provide, but the payment model differs by patient. Many times, hospitals are not fully reimbursed for the care they provide. In most North Carolina hospitals, almost 75 percent of patient care is paid by government programs like Medicare and Medicaid or written off as charity care. Only about one in four hospital patients today has private insurance.
As one of the largest employers in Robeson County, our hospital is an important part of the local economy. Just like other businesses in our community, SRMC has faced financial challenges. For this reason, we are committed to helping develop the solution for Medicaid in North Carolina that puts the needs of patients first and leaves decision-making for patient care in the hands of medical providers.
Despite the challenges facing our hospital and the changes that are ahead, our employees remain committed to our mission of caring for our patients and helping our community and our state push forward towards a Healthier Tomorrow.
Joann Anderson is the president and CEO of Southeastern Health, which includes Southeastern Regional Medical Center.