PHC Nurses, Doctors 'Very Optimistic'
There have been many changes at the Peninsula Hospital Center ever since the “Closed” sign went up on its front door in August and Revival Home Health Care took over the operation of the troubled facility in September, several staff members told The Wave in an interview on Wednesday.
“From our perspective, the hospital has changed greatly from when we were declared closed by the state health department until today,” said Dr. Wayne Dodakian, a longtime resident at PHC. “There is a much more positive atmosphere, a sense of ease, less tension.”
“And knowing that our paycheck will be there every week, don’t forget that,” chimed in one of the nurses at the interview.
The others laughed, but it was no joke that during the past summer, staffers did not know from one week to another whether or not they would be paid or if the hospital would remain open.
The panel, made up of Dodakian, Dr. Herschel Kessler, a resident in family practice, nurses Mary Kampa, Anthony Symes, Peggy Frontera and Jennie Butler, had requested a meeting because they wanted the Rockaway community to know how much the hospital has changed and grown.
They say that the census at the hospital had grown to 94 patients this week, only about 20 or 25 patients fewer than the hospital housed in its hey-day as Rockaway’s premier hospital.
“The way we do business is different from when the [Levine] administration ran the hospital,” Dodakian said. “It shows in how we manage the patient load with more efficiency, in how a typical patient now stays for five days rather than the 10 to 15 days they stayed in the past. You see it in the way that we now do long-range planning and long-range changes. We never did that before under the past administration.”
“There are lots of improvements and we are moving in a positive direction,” he added.
Symes said that he is impressed with the transparency of the new administration.
“There was a closed-door policy before, but [CEO Todd] Miller has an open-door policy for everybody,” he said. “You send him an email and it is answered within five minutes.”
Butler says that she sees the changes in the emergency room, where many of the former nurses who worked in the intensive care unit wound up after they closed the six beds that make up the unit.
“We have the best and most knowledgeable staff imaginable,” Butler said. “Especially with the nurses we inherited. We have abundant staff and all the supplies we need.”
Dodakian pointed out some of the new, high-tech programs that are being put in place within the next month or so.
“We have the NovaRad system coming in mid-January,” he said. “That $185,000 system will allow all of the tests done in the imaging unit to be digitalized and be immediately available to doctors whether or not the doctors are in the hospital. They can even view them at home on special screens.”
He added, “There is the wireless link that will give doctors instant access to all of the patient’s [laboratory results] and medical records.
Those include billing, labs, prescriptions, records and everything else. They will be able to see those on any Internetenabled device like an iPad or a mobile telephone.”
Kessler said that the biggest change for him since Revival took over is that “residents are treated like people, not residents.”
He added that there was a time during the summer when the residency program was closed, and medical students were going elsewhere.
“That’s not happening anymore,” he said. “They’re coming back for their rotations.”
“We want to get the word out that we are better than ever, that we have a new sense of pride and we are caring people,” Dodakian said. “There is lots of good stuff going on here and even the trustee appointed by the federal court is pleased with the way things are going.”
The group was asked if anybody had qualms about Revival and the problems its for-profit ownership had in the past.
They looked at each other and shook their heads.
“The hospital is open and getting better as time goes on,” Dodakian said. “What they did was prior to the time they came to Peninsula. The hospital is open for the community, and that is the real story.”