Norton Center Salutes: Ephraim McDowell Health
Most often one considers a hospital for only certain things such as an illness or surgery, after an accident or before the birth of a child. In the case of Ephraim McDowell Health however, one must also consider the vast economic impact of a comprehensive, integrated healthcare delivery system that serves more than 119,000 residents from six counties in central Kentucky.
Keith Bridges, Executive Director of Ephraim McDowell Health’s Foundation, Marketing and Public Relations divisions explains, “Excellence is not defined by the size of the hospital or by its location in a metropolitan area. We’re in a smaller environment and while we may not be the largest hospital, our commitment to quality care shows in everything that we do. The same measure of excellence that is available in this area for the performing arts and higher education is also available for healthcare. The difference is that people aren’t exposed to it until they need it.”
Ephraim McDowell began in 1918 as the brainchild of a few local doctors who saw a need for a hospital in Danville. Nearly a century later, Ephraim McDowell has developed into a true Regional Medical Center with a 222-bed licensed hospital and nearly 30 facilities for specialized health care spread throughout the surrounding six counties.
“Ephraim McDowell is not the same historic hospital that it was even 20 years ago,” Bridges says. “For example, there were only two hospitals in the state that were allowed to do interventional cardiology procedures without having open heart surgery programs – Ephraim McDowell was one of them and because of our success and best practices here, heart care is now available to a broader number of Kentuckians than ever before.”
Out of the 131 hospitals in Kentucky, Ephraim McDowell Health is the only one certified as a Center of Excellence by the Joint Commission for total knee and hip replacements. The hospital also features a nationally accredited sleep disorders center, two brand new state-of-the-art birthing facilities, and just announced an Auxiliary Greeter Escort Service to help new patients and those who haven’t visited in a while navigate the new South Wing and relocation of the information desk, gift shop, and outpatient retail pharmacy.
“Healthcare isn’t art in the way that you would necessary look at theatre, music, or a painting,” Bridges notes. “But when you analyze the sophistication of medical technologies and the service lines that are available to our patients you can draw some parallels – it is certainly elevated and of a stature that draws worthy attention.”
Preventative services are also a high priority for Ephraim McDowell in their mission to offer the best in quality care. Staff, doctors, and nurses encourage patients to get health screenings and visit the McDowell Wellness Center, a physical fitness and rehabilitation facility with the latest in fitness equipment, an aerobics studio, and a six-lane indoor pool. The Wellness Center also provides physical therapy, smoking cessation programs, and is staffed by a registered dietician, who manages a ‘Lose Weight Feel Great’ Biggest Loser-style weight loss initiative as well as works with local businesses to provide lunch-time talks on healthier eating practices. According to Ephraim McDowell, Kentucky ranks in the top five for states with the highest percentage of obese citizens.
“The concept behind ‘We Are What We Eat’ and the teachings of Daphne Miller and Marion Nestle fall in line with what we do as a health-care provider. Obesity leads to heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure; all of these have a singular cause – what we’re eating,” Bridges describes. “Nutrition, healthier lifestyle habits, and where our food comes from are issues that are important to us.”
As the largest employer in Danville, Ephraim McDowell generates approximately $44 million in annual local payroll. But the heart of the hospital is just as generous. In addition to gifts made to the Norton Center and Centre College, Ephraim McDowell supports other local organizations such as the Heart of Danville, the Salvation Army and the United Way. “There are certain things that we’re required to support,” explains Bridges. “But by our character, there are other things that we feel we need to participate in.”
By law, hospitals are required to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. In 2010 and 2011, Ephraim McDowell Health provided $37 million dollars in uncompensated healthcare to patients who never paid back a penny. “There aren’t many companies in business today that can write off $37 million,” Bridges says. “It is our obligation as a nonprofit but it also our service to this community.”
Ephraim McDowell Health is the Exclusive Partner for the Norton Center’s engagement of “We Are What We Eat.”
For information on how you can support Norton Center programs and performances, please contact the Norton Center Development Office at 859.238.5421.