As southwest Louisiana’s largest local nonprofit community hospital, Lake Charles Memorial Health System has recently been making a concerted effort to plan strategically how it can best use its resources of time, expertise and funds to make positive changes and build a healthier community. 

“Service to patients, families, employees and the community is at the heart of all activities,” it says. “Since its founding, Memorial has been dedicated to community service.”

Memorial, which was established in 1952, is the only full-service healthcare system in Lake Charles. It includes 298 licensed beds on its Oak Park campus, 38 beds at its women’s campus and 29 beds at its long-term care specialty hospital. It also has outpatient clinics serving uninsured and under-insured patients at the W.O. Moss Memorial Health Clinic, and more than 90 employed physicians and specialists that are part of the Memorial Medical Group.

“As the healthcare market leader in the Lake Charles region, our success can be attributed to a dedicated team of over 2,800 employees and 300 staff physicians representing more than 60 specialties and subspecialties, as well as the largest emergency services department in southwest Louisiana,” the hospital says.

Memorial is the area’s only teaching facility for physicians through the Memorial/LSUHSC Family Medicine Residency Program. It also serves as a clinical training site for nursing, medical technology and radiologic technology students through various universities, including McNeese State University.

Memorial Specialty Hospital, the system’s long-term acute care hospital, specializes in the treatment of patients with serious medical conditions that need care on an ongoing basis but no longer require intensive care or extensive diagnostic procedures. These patients usually are discharged from the intensive care units and require more care than they can receive in a rehabilitation center, a skilled nursing facility or at home.

Memorial Health System is locally-owned and operated by a board of trustees from the community it serves. 

Stroke Telemedicine

In February, Lake Charles Memorial Health System launched its InTouch TeleStroke program in partnership with Tulane Medical Center. The program is a form of telemedicine that provides Lake Charles Memorial patients with enhanced in-house stroke care and 24-hour access to Tulane Medical Center’s specialized stroke experts.

The collaboration brings together TeleStroke equipment and specialized care from Tulane’s Joint Commission-certified stroke center. Using TeleStroke system carts and a two-way live video, audio and image-sharing system, consulting neurologist and neurosurgeons from Tulane Medial Center can evaluate a Lake Charles Memorial patient in real time to diagnose a stroke and determine the best course of action.

“During a stroke, time is of the essence, because time lost is brain lost,” says Dr. Jon Gray, Lake Charles Memorial Emergency Department Medical Director. “Tulane’s TeleStroke network provides on-demand access to stroke experts within minutes of entering our emergency room and reduces treatment time.”

As part of the TeleStroke partnership, Lake Charles Memorial stroke patients will have streamlined access to Tulane Medical Center when it is needed for advanced care.

“We are committed to enhancing healthcare in the community, and we want to keep Lake Charles Memorial patients close to home whenever possible,” says Sheryl Martin-Schild, M.D., PhD, Vascular Neurologist and Medical Director of the Tulane Stroke Program. “Stroke patients will likely stay at Lake Charles Memorial, but it’s comforting for patients, family and staff to know specialized care is available nearby at Tulane Medical Center, when necessary.”

Joined Network

This past September, Lake Charles Memorial Health System joined the Gulf South Quality Network (GSQN), the largest clinically integrated physician-governed network in Louisiana. “Partnering with GSQN will strengthen each member hospital’s healthcare infrastructure and physician network,” the hospital explains. “With the adoption of GSQN’s clinical initiatives, Lake Charles Memorial Health System will offer patients the benefit of enhanced quality, service and cost-effective patient care.”

“GSQN is dedicated to improving patient care and outsourcing by focusing on quality measurements and decreasing costs while providing better access to care,” said Larry Graham, president and CEO of Lake Charles Memorial Health System. “In today’s ever-changing healthcare environment, clinical integration is necessary to facilitate the coordination of patient care in order to achieve care that is safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient-focused. This partnership supports our mission of improving the health of the people of southwest Louisiana.” 

GSQN members are said to collaborate on a much higher degree with physicians who are focused on quality of care, not quantity; have an opportunity to identify and develop quality metrics to provide best practice pathways of care; gain economic benefit for delivering high-quality metrics; and help eliminate inefficiencies to reduce costs.

GSQN recently expanded to the Lafayette and Alexandria, La., markets to add to the existing facilities in the New Orleans metropolitan region. It currently has more than 1,800 physicians and is focused on engaging physicians around data to improve patient care and manage patients with one or more chronic disease states.

Top Doctors

The Memorial Medical Group recently had five physicians make the list of Louisiana’s top doctors in a recent survey of their peers conducted for Louisiana Life magazine for 2015.

    • Cardiology: Dr. J. King White
    • Family Medicine: Dr. Alan LeBato
    • Orthopedic Surgery: Dr. Nathan Cohen
    • Pulmonology: Drs. R. Craig Broussard and Ben F. Thompson III
    • Critical Care Medicine: Dr. Ben F. Thompson III

Louisiana Life utilized the services of Best Doctors Inc. to gather ratings from a database of professionals who are highly regarded by their peers. Best Doctors contacts each doctor on the previous list and asks the same question: “If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty and you couldn’t treat them yourself, to whom would you refer them?” Every physician has the opportunity both to comment confidentially on the other doctors included in his or her specialty and to make additional nominations. As new names are added to the pool, each undergoes the same peer-evaluation process. 

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