University CEO discusses recent Trinity Hospital acquisition

As he walked down the hallway of University Hospital Summerville, Jim Davis glanced out the window and was struck by the scenery.

 

“It really is a pretty campus,” said Davis, the president of University Health Care System and CEO of University Hospital.

Having taken control of the 65-year-old facility, formerly Trinity Hospital of Augusta, and its extensive grounds and buildings, Davis and University are looking to build on those assets while making some needed renovations.

The hospital’s greenery will also probably attract some services to its grounds while others are moving to University’s main campus a couple of miles down the hill on Wrightsboro Road.

“The theory behind this whole purchase was to move some services out of our main campus over to here,” Davis said, as he sat in hospital administration.

One option University is considering is moving outpatient cancer services to the nearby medical office building.

“It’s just a very pleasant campus to be on,” Davis said. “It is easy to access for people coming for chemo.”

The current oncology service is “busting at the seams” in its current offices and “we’re just not going to fit in that space,” he said. “We have this medical office building over here that is dying for some activity.”

In fact, acquiring the 231-bed hospital recently is important for both current and future growth and may be needed quickly, Davis said.

“We had 455 bedded patients yesterday, in July,” he said, which is usually a slow time for hospitals. “That’s up there. And it continues to grow. People want to come to University. We have to make it so that they can.”

University Summerville will continue to operate its Emergency Department, which is a valuable asset, Davis said.

“This ER is very well thought of, it always has been,” he said. “That’s a great access point for our health system. We want to keep that level of service very high.”

It will not, however, continue as a Level III trauma center.

University Summerville will also continue its popular Bariatric Center and weight loss program, orthopedic surgeries and general surgeries, he said.

The hospital has always had a reputation as an easier place for patients to get in and get treated with personal attention and that fits University’s approach as well, he said.

“Our strategy is to try to keep the care as close to people’s homes as we can and make it simple for people to come and go,” Davis said.

What won’t continue is the hospital’s long tradition of labor and delivery.

Those services were down to about three a day and “economically it does not work with three babies,” Davis said.

Births will be done at the main campus, which also absorbed that staff, said Lynn Beaulieu, administrative director for University Hospital Summerville.

In fact, more than 300 staff were brought over, Davis said.

“There’s been a tremendous investment in helping those employees on board into University,” Beaulieu said.

Part of that is training and education and part of it is adjusting to a different, forward-looking mindset, she said.

“There’s always something we’re going to be doing and I think they have been trying to hold on so, it is a different philosophy,” Beaulieu said.

Acquiring Trinity was also necessary for University’s future, particular in light of what may come out of health care reform and what are likely to be even deeper cuts in funding, Davis said.

“What we’re doing at Uni­ver­sity, and this whole Trinity thing is part of it, is we’re trying to figure out how to grow because we can spread fixed costs over more patients by doing that,” he said.

And it is also the right thing to do, Davis said.

“It is a good thing for Augusta,” he said.

 

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com

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