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After a year of milestones, Oaklawn looking ahead

MARSHALL – After a series of significant milestones in 2016, Oaklawn Hospital and the Oaklawn Medical Group are preparing for new initiatives designed to improve access to health care throughout the region.

“It’s been a tremendous year,” said Ginger Williams, President and CEO, “and we’re looking forward to an even greater one ahead.”

Oaklawn’s quality of service was honored in significant ways during the past year. In July, the hospital was named as one of just four in Michigan and 102 U.S. hospitals to earn five stars – the highest possible – in a ranking announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Under the ranking system, the single composite grade reflects a broad range of measures of quality in the categories of mortality, safety of care, readmissions, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and efficient use of medical imaging.

In October, Oaklawn became the only hospital in Calhoun County to be designated officially as one of Michigan’s trauma centers. The state’s designation of Oaklawn as a Level III Trauma Center is based primarily on criteria established by the American College of Surgeons.

“Such a designation bestows on us a profound sense of responsibility, because we must make certain to continue to live up to – and exceed – the high standards of a Level III trauma facility,” Williams said.

“We at Oaklawn are dedicated to our ongoing mission – to provide personal, compassionate, accessible, and high-quality care to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” she said. “We are always striving to give perfect care – every time – while advancing medicine in this region.”

Among recent developments has been the growth of Oaklawn’s orthopedic team and family-practice service, additions to medical staff and equipment, new partnerships that enhance medical services, the establishment of a new dialysis service in Albion and expanded hours at Oaklawn’s separate after-hours medical facility in Marshall.

In April, Oaklawn After Hours Express – which was launched in 2015 – expanded its hours to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, every day of the year. As always, appointments are not required at the facility at 111 S. Hamilton St. The service is intended to provide medical treatment during non-traditional hours.

In May, the new Oaklawn Dialysis Center of Albion, LLC, was opened at 350 B Drive North, Albion, adjacent to an existing Oaklawn Medical Group facility. That new 8,800-square-foot, 12-chair center features state-of-the-art technological equipment to treat chronic and acute kidney disease, and operates as a joint venture where Oaklawn Hospital is the majority stakeholder.

“These are just two examples of how Oaklawn has worked to improve access to health care throughout this area – and that effort will continue in the years ahead,” Williams said.

The past year brought Oaklawn the talents of Mac McClurkan in the role of Chief Information Officer; Richard C. Lindsey Jr. as Executive Director of Development and Community/Legislative Affairs; and Dr. Michael Chapman as Executive Director of Medical Affairs.

Oaklawn also enhanced its medical team and services in several ways during 2016:

– In April, the medical group acquired the practice of Mark Richardson, M.D., who moved to Traverse City. His patients are seen by George Seifert, M.D., in the same office – now called Marshall Primary Care – in the Wright Medical Building at 215 E. Mansion St. David Lambrix, M.D., subsequently joined that office as a part-time family-practice physician, followed by  family-practice physician Sami Ahmed, M.D., and Kayleigh Schwartz, a Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

– In June, Robert S. Schaefer, M.D., returned to orthopedic work in Marshall, assisting Kurt Piatkowski, D.O., with patients in Oaklawn’s Emergency Room. That signaled a broad-based expansion of orthopedic services, with the subsequent hiring of orthopedic surgeon Kimberly McLean, D.O., and physician assistant Tracy A. Smith.

– Additional medical providers joined the Oaklawn Medical Group’s team, including JT Thomas, M.D.; Stacey E. Watson, M.D., CPE; Tiffany Burns, M.D.; Michelle L. Kachman, M.D.; physician assistant Sundos Fadel; and Urvish Shah, M.D.

– In August, a General Electric Innova IGS 540 imaging system was purchased to enhance Oaklawn Medical Group’s Heart & Vascular Institute’s ability to provide surgical vascular imaging at a reduced dose and time for vascular surgery patients.

New partnerships also have enhanced Oaklawn’s ability to solidify its future:

– In June, Oaklawn and Kalamazoo-based Borgess Health announced an agreement to create a new organization called THINK Health LLC, to allow the two organizations to collaborate and design innovative approaches to improve patient care. Each hospital will remain independent of the other, with collaboration occurring through THINK Health LLC, whose name reflects the concepts of transformation, healing, inspiration, nurture and knowledge.

– Also in June, Oaklawn entered into a formal affiliation agreement with the West Michigan Cancer Center & Institute for Blood Disorders. As a result, medical oncologist Muhammad Rafi, M.D.,  joined the center’s Oaklawn Campus at the Wright Medical Building to serve cancer patients in Marshall. Medical privileges have been granted to center associates Mitchell Berger, M.D.; Dustin Bivins, D.O.; Ross Tisron, N.P., and physician assistant Jill Noack.

Oaklawn’s support for preventive health programs includes its partnership with the Marshall Area Farmers Market, which initially launched an indoor market inside the hospital front lobby in the early months of 2016, and returned the following winter.

“This is just one example of Oaklawn’s commitment to helping area residents find healthy food options during non-traditional market months,” Williams said.

Oaklawn also will maintain its programs in fitness training, including those at the Oaklawn Life Improvement Center; the annual Hospitality Classic walk/run event and Health Fair; the annual Fourth of July Pet, Bike & Wagon Parade; 100 Lap Club training through area elementary schools; a garden program focusing on gardening education and nutrition; and support of Marshall Mobile Meals to provide heart-healthy, nutritious options at a subsidized cost for area residents who are elderly, homebound or otherwise in need.

Founded in 1925 as a 12-bed care facility in a residential home, Oaklawn has evolved into a highly regarded regional health-care organization, licensed for 77 acute care beds and a 17-bed inpatient psychiatric unit.

“Oaklawn and its diverse staff work daily to provide the best possible medical care at our independently owned non-profit hospital,” Williams said. “Thanks to those efforts over the years, our main campus still rests on the same site as the original hospital, providing facilities, equipment and technology that are usually only found at larger health systems.”

Oaklawn’s service area includes Calhoun County and parts of Branch and Eaton counties with a medical staff of more than 150 providers representing over 35 specialties. More information about Oaklawn’s medical staff, locations, history and role in the community may be found online at oaklawnhospital.org.