By Tia Lynn Ivey, Managing Editor
Morgan County’s new hospital turns one-year-old this December, but the vision for the Morgan Medical Center was more than 15 years in the making.
Hospital leaders are celebrating the one-year anniversary since the Morgan Medical Center, a $35 million replacement hospital, opened its doors to the public .
“The past year has been a positive one, from a growth perspective as well as financially. We are excited to enter 2020 with a continued commitment to grow and expand the services we are able to provide locally to our citizens,” said John Moore, chairman of the Morgan County Hospital Authority.
“While we are wrapping up our first year as Morgan Medical Center, our journey continues,” said Ralph Castillo, CEO of the Morgan Medical Center. “ The goal and vision that drives us will continue to be the pursuit of a Patient Focused Center of Excellence.”
After 15 years of dreaming, reorganizing, planning, applying, and constructing, the new $35 million Morgan Medical Center, the much anticipated replacement hospital on Lions Club Road in Madison, opened on Dec. 19 of 2018. The brand new state-of-the-art, modernized hospital was designed to usher in 21 century healthcare to Morgan County. The project gained steam in 2015, when the Morgan County Board of Commissioners took a chance on it by increasing funding to Morgan Memorial Hospital up to $1 million every year for the next 25 years. Since then, hospital leaders received loans and grants to fund the construction of the new hospital.
In the last year the new hospital adopted a new name and a new attitude, to build upon the legacy of the old Morgan Memorial Hospital.
According to CEO Ralph Castillo, a new name will signify a new era for MMH, one in which every employee, from the top CEO down to the janitors, will adopt a reinvigorated commitment to patient-focused care.
“I want each and everyone of us to live, breathe and die on a vision of a patient-focused center of excellence,” said Castillo. “That’s what we have always been about, but what we will strive toward all the more in the new hospital.”
In light of that goal, MMC leaders have been exploring new ways to enhance patient-care over the last year in order to keep up with the ever-changing medical and technological advances.
According to Megan Morris, director of development and community affairs for MMC, in the last year the new hospital has experience increases in growth and patient service revenue.
“We’ve seen significant volume increase in multiple service lines,” said Morris. “ Some of this growth is due to added service lines, while others is just an increase in patients choosing Morgan Medical for their services. Our acute care census has increased as we are now able to care for sicker patients. The number of patients being transferred out of the ER to other facilities has therefore decreased.”
According to Morris, Gross Patient Service revenue has grown from $19,736,023 in CY 2019 to $26,282,600 in CY 2020.
“This is an average of $1.974 million per month in 2019 compared to $2.626 million per month in 2020.
Morris noted that Acute Car has increased 89 percent, surgery has increased 66 percent, outpatient therapy has increased 45 percent, radiology has increased 26 percent, outpatient labs and radiology has increased 16 percent, and Emergency Room visits have increased by 14 percent.
Morgan Medical Center is equipped to provide a broader variety or services.
“We now have multiple specialists who are seeing patients locally and performing cases in our surgical suite. These include urology, podiatry, orthopedics. We’ve also added a second gastroenterologist. Some of the new surgical procedures we’ve been able to perform include tumor removal, small joint implants, rotator cuff repair, and carpal tunnel release,” explained Morris. “ We have added nuclear medicine. For example, nuclear stress testing. Our staff conduct the testing and Dr. Joseph Poole, cardiologist, will read it on-site. We have doubled our provider coverage for inpatients by adding a second advanced practice provider and extending the hours of coverage. “
Morgan Medical Center has also added state-of-the art imaging services, including MRI five-days-a-week, 3-D mammography, fluoroscopy, and low dose X-rays.
“We are one of only a few of these systems in Georgia,” said Morris of the low dose X-ray service. “ The addition of fluoroscopy has enabled us to offer new procedures such as upper gastrointestinal series, barium swallows, PICC line placement, arthrograms. We can now also do CT guided biopsies.
Morgan Medical Center’s therapy services have improved, partly because of the addition of an outdoor therapy garden where “patients can regain their mobility and balance with the help of multiple walking surfaces and a three-hole putting green, a kid-sized pediatric therapy room, and expanded space for additional equipment and privacy. We also added a pediatric speech therapist to our staff.”
The hospital also own a new primary care practice, operated by Dr. Robert Pepper, adding this needed-service to the Morgan Physician Services.
“ After 25 years serving as a physician and missionary in Africa, Dr. Robert and his family have loved being able to come back to his wife’s hometown,” said Morris.
Since opening the new hospital, the average total number of employees has grown from 185 to 205. According to Morris, 86 percent of new hires have been for for clinical positions and 14 percent for administrative positions.
“We also have increased patient, employee and visitor safety with the addition of a 24/7 security staff.”
Hospital leaders are finally seeing the fruits of their labor as they continue to grow and find new ways to improve healthcare in Morgan County.
““A new hospital for the citizens of Morgan County is a project that has been in the works for over a decade,” said MMH CEO Ralph Castillo earlier this year. “Our patients deserve quality care locally with all of the services that a modern facility will enable. Our staff members are dedicated to becoming a ‘patient focused center of excellence’ and this facility will help make that vision a reality.”