It was 15 months ago that Mercy Memorial Health Center held a roundtable meeting to discuss meeting the community’s needs.

It was 15 months ago that Mercy Memorial Health Center held a roundtable meeting to discuss meeting the community’s needs.


Monday evening, officials from Mercy held another roundtable meeting, outlining an ambitious $4.8 billion plan to enhance medical care and meet the needs of the community.


“Mercy needs to show the way and show the nation there is a better way,” Lynn Britton, Mercy President and CEO, said. “We planned it together, we dreamed it together and now we will need to work together.”


Of the $4.8 billion, $772 million is slated for Mercy facilities in Oklahoma. The structure of the plan is based on a seven-tier road map. Those areas of need are an expanded footprint, underserved populations, more providers, specialty care, children, telemedicine and renewal.


In several of those areas, Mercy Memorial Health Center in Ardmore has already established inroads. The Mid Tower was opened in June and a state of the art cancer center, a multimillion-dollar project, was added in May to establish an expanded footprint.


In terms of more providers, Mercy Memorial President Mindy Burdick noted that 12 new physicians have been added since April. Two oncologists will also join the staff at Mercy Memorial.


“We really have to focus on expanding our physician complement,” she said. “We have a very aggressive recruiting program in place.”


Burdick also noted there have not been any layoffs at the hospital and that she believed nurse-patient ratios have remained the same as they have been in the past.


During the meeting, time was set aside for people at each table to discuss the road map and their impression of it with a moderator and a note taker. One area of approval was in the strides made for children’s health. Mercy has offered a nutrition program, free of charge to participating schools, of which many in the area have signed up for. The purchase for the program’s rights was referred to as a seven-figure expenditure on the part of Mercy Memorial.


Mercy’s interaction with the community was also noted, particularly the A2A event, which has raised $200,000 for the cancer center.


“It is great, not only as a fundraiser but from the community aspect,” roundtable participant Steve Martin said.


The concept of telemedicine was also discussed. While in its infancy, the program is designed to aid patients seeking care online. The program is in the experimental stage and if proven successful, Britton was hopeful that it would gain popularity through lower co-pays.


Mercy is in the process of instituting Epic Integrated Electronic Health Records, which would allow patients and hospitals to access their records. Britton said that Mercy would have all of its facilities online with the program by March 2012.


The 8-year program will also have a bearing on the Ardmore campus as plans are being made to develop a new primary care clinic to take the place of Memorial Care Clinic, which would be turned into a parking lot. The new clinic would allow Mercy to recruit more primary care providers.


Mercy cites new parking as a critical need with only 458 existing spaces. There are also plans to move the offices out of the old Adventist Hospital, raze it and turn it into a parking lot.


Michael Pineda