Accessibility is an everyday focus at Angleton Danbury Medical Center. Based in Angleton, Texas, this medical center looks to the community first and foremost, basing expansion plans and patient services on the needs of its surrounding area. As a Texas hospital district, ADMC is owned by the district’s residents. The hospital is licensed for 64 beds and is a general acute care facility. Every three to four years, ADMC goes through a strategic planning process to determine what the hospital can do in terms of expansion plans and services. ADMC’s newest acquisition is an outpatient-imaging center.
“We had MRI services available at the hospital but could only schedule them with a mobile unit twice a week,” said Paula Tobon-Stevens, associate administrator. “Now, we’re able to cater to the outpatient market. It’s more efficient, and we can schedule patients five days a week. This expansion plays into our philosophy of tailoring our services to what the community needs.”
“The way we do strategic planning is different,” said Dave Bleakney, CEO. “Because we’re community owned, we feel strongly that the resident should have a say in what we do and how we do it.”
Residents, community leaders, volunteers, and employees from all service organizations are invited to the hospital’s strategic planning session. During the session, hospital leaders present their mission, current standing, and goals for the future.
“Many facilities don’t involve anyone outside their organization in their strategic planning processes, but as stewards of public funding, we believe it’s our responsibility to involve the members of our community,” said Bleakney.
From there, community members and board members discuss what needs to be implemented in ADMC to help the surrounding community. Past ventures include wellness and surgery centers. “We’re unique in that respect,” said Bleakney. “Our planning process dovetails into our strategic plans, and our strategic plans dovetail into our business plans.”
“It’s a thorough, community-wide assessment,” said Tobon-Stevens. “It can be humbling because we listen to what people tell us about our service lines. It’s also an educational process because a lot of our community lay-people don’t fully understand what’s happening in healthcare.”
Since ADMC relies so heavily on community feedback, time and resources are used to educate the public on the issues at hand. “We want to make sure we’re getting feedback from an educated audience,” said Tobon-Stevens.
Bleakney and Tobon-Stevens said the hospital conducts a thorough educational program beginning with a global perspective of the healthcare market. After narrowing the view down to the city of Angleton, community members and hospital leaders form specific goals and, essentially, their business plan.
“This educational process is at every level,” said Tobon-Stevens. “For example, one of our target areas is childhood obesity. Two years ago, we conducted a program that brought kids to our campus but saw minimal results. So last year, we targeted about 60 sixth graders in the community and, instead, went to them to discuss wellness and education.”
ADMC also ventures out in the community to educate children on infection control, diabetes, and other relevant health issues. The programs are designed to engage children and prevent common diseases found in the Angleton area.
“It’s hard for us to encapsulate everything,” said Bleakney. “We sponsor numerous programs that target all community members, but we feel seniors and kids are our target groups because we can help to improve their health choices quickly and thoroughly.”
ADMC partners with many organizations to jointly address the needs of the community. For example, the hospital partnered with United Way to reduce the chances of replicating services. “We’re big believers in partnerships,” said Tobon-Stevens. “This allows us to conduct joint community-needs assessments and expand our resources.”
A recent partnership enabled ADMC to build additional medical offices on 20 acres of the hospital’s land. The buildings will bring together doctor’s offices, a pharmacy, and other medically-related services, making them a one-stop shop for community members.
“Our mindset is we don’t need to be behind everything,” said Bleakney. “We found a community partner and are in the process of finalizing the project. We want to recover some money from that investment, but the long and short of it is the community needed it, and so did we.”
Because Angleton is in a somewhat rural location, the medical buildings will provide much-needed convenience and accessibility for the community. “This is a great opportunity for us because we’re a part of something that the community never had,” said Tobon-Stevens.
Bleakney said the hospital is quick to extend its services to others, which makes an ADMC partnership a true give and take. “If a partner of ours identifies a corporate need, we’ll assist them through health fairs and health education,” he said. “And if we’ve identified a health need they can help us with, we invite them to join us.”
The concept of genuine partnerships plays into ADMC’s marketing. For the last year, more than 100 visits have been made to local physicians by the hospital’s marketing director, adding a personal touch to the ADMC message.
“We’re not big believers in print advertising because that doesn’t work in our community,” said Tobon-Stevens. “These visits encourage word-of-mouth marketing and enable us to receive feedback.”
“Time and time again, surveys reveal word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful method to use in a community,” said Bleakney. “It’s particularly powerful with physicians.”
As the nation embraces the healthcare reform, Bleakney said this type of interaction is vital to hospital/physician relationships. “Today, so many physicians are distrustful of hospitals,” he said. “The healthcare overhaul is designed to put hospitals and physicians on opposite sides. But our physicians believe they’re not going to be successful unless the hospital is and vice versa. Our staff is fiercely loyal because we’re open, we’re friendly, and we’re easy to do business with. We’re friends and neighbors caring for friends and neighbors.”
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