Trinity benefits from change

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The difference in a year at Trinity Hospital of Augusta, Allan Joseph noticed, is a physician can see a dingy wall, call the administration and see someone painting it hours later. It is in a new electronic medical record system that will allow Dr. Joseph to access records from home, and in new equipment throughout the facility.

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James Cruickshank, the CEO of Trinity Hospital of Augusta, says the hospital's goal is still to keep a personalized feel to the smaller hospital and keep the spirituality that St. Joseph was known for.  Chris Thelen/Staff
Chris Thelen/Staff
James Cruickshank, the CEO of Trinity Hospital of Augusta, says the hospital's goal is still to keep a personalized feel to the smaller hospital and keep the spirituality that St. Joseph was known for.

But just as important is the sense of stability felt throughout the hospital, he said.

"While there are a lot of changes going on, people feel a bit more comfortable," said Dr. Joseph, one of several physicians on Trinity's board of trustees. "They feel like there is a foundation being set in place over here upon which people can really build for the future."

In the year since the former St. Joseph Hospital became Trinity, there are changes large and small. Not the least of these is a heavy involvement of physicians, CEO James Cruickshank said. In the years before St. Joseph was sold, many physician requests couldn't be filled. Not so now, he said.

"Physicians, their whole practice, their whole lifestyle is it's got to be done now," Mr. Cruickshank said. "Patients have to be seen now, surgery has to be done now. When they point out an issue or point out something that needs to be addressed, they expect it to get done."

It could be as simple as putting an awning between a physician office building and the hospital to keep the rain off or as complex as improving operating room efficiency. Mr. Cruickshank said he asked staff to focus on trying to meet the standards of not the other hospitals but the free-standing surgery centers who make it their only business. The result has been greater efficiency and a 35 percent increase in the number of surgeries, he said.

"If we can do that efficiently and still keep the patient feeling like they're not just somebody in a process, it's very beneficial for the surgeon," Mr. Cruickshank said.

Keeping that personalized feel of a smaller community hospital, and the spirituality that epitomized St. Joseph, is still a key goal, he said.

"We don't want to get so engrossed in the technology that we forget about the needs of the patient, the compassion, and what we're really here to do," he said.

The facility is looking to capitalize on areas of expertise in bariatric surgery and orthopedics.

The key is finding that balance between high-tech and personable care, Dr. Joseph said.

"When you have those elements along with an upgrade in technology to where it is convenient and facilitates the physicians managing the patients, that's the best marriage of both worlds," he said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or


Part of the financial turnaround since St. Joseph Hospital became Trinity Hospital of Augusta a year ago has been simply because of treating more patients. The hospital had 1,200 more surgeries in that time period compared with the previous year, and 850 more patients were admitted to the hospital than in the previous year.

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Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 04/24/08 - 04:50 am
Don't get me wrong, I hope

Don't get me wrong, I hope Trinity continues to do well, but let's don't forget THE major reason there is more patients and procedures being done at Trinity is because the doctor's are getting extra pay for bringing them there. The doctors became financial partners with this hospital, meaning that they agreed to bring more of their patients to Trinity to have procedures done, in exchange for more money for themselves. I know one surgeon that was told that he would not be referred by a certain primary doctor's group if he did not perform his surgeries at Trinity. Now, is that good business or is that blackmail? The bottom line, however, is that good care is still being given at Trinity, so it's not like the patient will suffer because of the greed of the doctors. I just wanted people to remember what's behind stories like this one.

soldout 04/24/08 - 07:19 am
Just my opinion gives a good

Just my opinion gives a good reminder of how the world works and medical folks are no different. I am not saying it is bad; but for "all the truth" in any situation, you just have to follow the money.

FallingLeaves 04/24/08 - 09:46 am
I miss the St. Joseph's name.

I miss the St. Joseph's name.

reruns 04/24/08 - 12:44 pm
I gave birth to all three of

I gave birth to all three of my boys and I would do it all again at the same hospital. Sometimes small is a good thing.

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