Monday, June 30, 2008

Check out the news stories from last weekend about the newest daVinci robot at Community General Hospital.

The surgical robot, such as the one acquired by Community, was on display for two days last week at the Carousel Center, where Dr. Po Lam talked about the importance of the new technology. Dr. Lam, a member of Associated Medical Professional of CNY, PLLC, is a board-certified urologist who is fellowship-trained in endourology, laparoscopic...and robotic surgery.

Explaining the advantages of robot-assisted surgery, Dr. Lam said

Our wrists can only rotate so much… (because) our anatomy – our elbows and our shoulders and our wrists – is limited. The robot can spin around…and has more dexterity and precision than the human hands. In some ways the robot is better than a human…
To see the daVinci demonstration and hear Dr. Lam, click on the links to Community General unveils daVinci robot and High tech robot performs surgeries.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A trusted collaborator

I've heard this from state officials, as well as from other hospital CEOs throughout the state: Syracuse hospitals are unique in that we communicate with one another and we actually work together on cooperative projects.

I was reminded of this last week at the annual meeting of Community General Hospital. One of the annual reports is the status of organizations in which Community is a partner with other health care providers. For example, Community is a partner with Crouse Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in the Laboratory Alliance of CNY, LLC, Liverpool, NY.

Founded in 1997, the Lab Alliance provides clinical laboratory services to its member hospitals, as well as to physicians’ offices, nursing homes, and other hospitals. With more than 400 employees, last year the Lab Alliance performed 8.1 million tests. It is accredited by the Joint Commission, and it also performs device trials for the manufacturers of laboratory equipment.

Another area where Syracuse hospitals work together is the Plaza Corporation, which has Community, Crouse and St. Joseph’s as members. Plaza is the parent corporation for the 160-bed Iroquois Nursing Home in Jamesville, NY. With Loretto, Plaza is also the sponsor of Rosewood Heights Nursing Home, a 242-bed facility in Syracuse, NY. Combined, Iroquois and Rosewood account for about 14% of the total nursing home capacity in Onondaga County.

EPC, LLC (known as the Endoscopy Procedure Center) is an organization formed in 2005 by Community General Hospital with two medical practices, Associated Gastroenterologists of CNY and Colon Rectal Surgeons of CNY. Licensed as an ambulatory procedure center, EPC provides specialized endoscopy services for patients. It is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.

Community is also a member in the Hospital Executive Council (HEC), which dates from 1979 and involves Crouse, St. Joseph’s and University Hospitals. The HEC was actually the planning vehicle that helped form the Laboratory Alliance, and it provided the focus for bringing the hospitals together in the Plaza Corporation about two decades ago.

Under the leadership of Ron Lagoe, PhD, the HEC provides data collection, information analyses, and information exchange among its members. It distributes daily reports on Syracuse hospital services, as well as the function of emergency departments in the city. The HEC serves as the hospitals' liaison with the area’s long term care industry, and it is a resource for medical staff credentialing.

The HEC operates multi-year projects that have helped the Syracuse hospitals achieve lengths of stay that are the lowest in New York State, as well as utilization rates that are among the lowest. The HEC is a focus for information and projects that help improve hospital quality and the more effective use of community resources. Ron Lagoe has contributed to the health care literature, using his Syracuse research to publish journal articles on subjects such as provider cooperation, length of stay management, information exchange, hospital-nursing home coordination, and many more.

Part of Community General Hospital's vision is to serve as “a trusted collaborator with those who share its mission.” Through the HEC and the other organizations, we help achieve that goal.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A change of heart

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, I had just graduated from high school. In the years leading to this landmark legislation, I remember an argument by those opposed to it – “you cannot legislate morality!”

It’s a curious argument. On one hand, it acknowledges that racial discrimination is a moral issue. On the other, the argument asserts that governmental action is impossible, apparently because no law can change what lies in a person’s mind or heart.

Well, the law did pass, and it outlawed segregation and discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and it helped assure voters’ rights. In a previous posting, I talked about the Jim Crow laws that were enforced in some states as late as 1965.

The law also changed America’s heart.

Many of us see this change within our own families. Racial language and ethnic stereotyping that may have been tolerated at one time, at least within family circles, is no longer acceptable. Even the look of families is different – more families have welcomed spouses and partners and children from different races.

But we all know that prejudice has not gone away, and thankfully there are people who continue to work on the “mind and heart” problem.

Here in Syracuse is the longest-running program in America that focuses on dialogue to help end racism. It’s called the Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism (CWD) , and for several decades it has been bringing together people who might not otherwise meet so they can build understanding, tolerance, acceptance, and friendship.

Today there’s a fund raiser for CWD at Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, and people from Community General have been great in helping to support this whimsical event, called The Duck Race. I am not entirely certain of this, but I think the duck theme comes from the old saw, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck.”

The Duck Race has a festive and multi-ethnic atmosphere with music and dancing and food – but the main event is the “race.” Model and toy ducks, sponsored by local companies and school children, waddle or float or paddle from Onondaga Creek into the Inner Harbor. There are a number of prizes for the sponsor of the winning ducks.

It is a light-hearted approach to a serious subject. And it’s good for our community.