Saturday, December 31, 2011

Into 2012

Welcoming a new year filled with possibility

It’s hard to believe it is already a new year. The fact that many of us have spent time in the last few weeks reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the new, speaks of the hope that we hold for the future. As Chief Executive Officer of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) and the Health Centers (HC), it has been my privilege to support the compassionate work performed by all of you this year. Together we have faced unprecedented upheaval in our national, state and local economies. Trying times expose our values because they force us to make critical choices.

This year will be no less trying. Economic crisis continues to clench much of the world. Initially centered on the financial sector, this crisis has caused business failures and job losses and, ultimately, an increased demand for service from the safety net. I will not downplay the fact that once again we will most certainly face another year of immense challenges – because, indeed, much hard work and hard choices are ahead. Yet, before us lies an even bigger opportunity to renew and recommit to our mission in response to the urgency of challenging times. Throughout our county’s history, tough times have seen us not lower our sights but raise them. We need to display an ambition equal to our future. We are in a time of profound change. We must continue to improve and invigorate our system as one that goes beyond a “place of last resort”, to a system that exists within a community where no one is left out.

Together, and in partnership with our community, we will achieve:
• Better Care: Improve overall quality, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.

• Healthier People and Communities: Improve the health of the population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, societal, and environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care.

• Affordable Care: Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and our county.
We must rise to these challenges because nothing less will do. I don’t expect that we will always agree with each other or with our colleagues across the public sector about the path forward. This is not a bad thing. Differences of opinion do not need to weaken us, they can make us stronger. Expressing divergent thinking, or raising a question often spurs introspection and brings daylight.

I am thankful that this last year provided the opportunity to deeply examine our system. After many months, the sustainability study of our Regional Medical Center and Health Centers was completed. The report described our strengths and the work we have underway to further improve and transform our system in order to continue to care for our community and help implement changes as part of Health Care Reform. The study summarized our current efforts to improve service delivery and patient experience, providing an excellent overview of our planned transition to Health Care Reform into 2014 and beyond. The findings validate that we have been - and continue to be - on the right path.

We are at a critical crossroads in health care in America and here in Contra Costa County. Together we will move forward on the basis on our shared ideals. As our community’s health system, we must continue to focus and prepare for the full implementation of Health Care Reform in 2014. Our goal is to provide care for our patients that is more coordinated and integrated, that will allow for earlier intervention, fewer avoidable emergency department visits and hospital stays and, ultimately, a healthier population while containing costs across our system and our community.

Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers (CCRMC & HC) will expand access to health care and enhance quality through our Delivery System Reform program, also known as DSRIP. The improvements we are implementing as part of this plan are seen as key concepts of Health Care Reform. This critical effort builds on the extensive, innovative, work already underway at CCRMC & HC and contributes to important knowledge for our country.

We are also well into the implementation of our electronic health record (EHR): ccLink. Based on the Epic software system, ccLink, which will "go live" in July 2012, is more than a state-of-the-art health record technology — it will help further transform the care experience by linking patients with the best care and people. The implementation of ccLink, increasing access to our delivery system, shortening response times for appointment scheduling, integrating behavioral health and primary care, the realization of landmark health reform concepts and many other improvements are all well underway thanks to your efforts.

There is still much work to be done, but we should not forget how much we have accomplished this past year. Your commitment and partnership are making a difference. Please accept my sincere best wishes to you and your families for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

I look ahead with confidence and optimism.

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