Wyoming’s Acute Care Hospitals Achieve National Status

Wyoming's 27 acute-care hospitals are earning high marks for patient care and specialties.

By
Michaela Jackson
On Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 09:57

When it comes to treating heart attack patients, Wyoming Medical Center is one of the fastest on the draw in the nation.

“We use the STEMI protocol, so from the time you hit our door and get into our cath lab, it can be 45 minutes to get your artery open – way below the national average,” says Vickie Diamond, president and CEO of the 192-bed hospital in Casper. “We are in the 90th percentile in the country.”

This top-notch ranking illustrates the depth of treatment options throughout the state at its 27 acute-care facilities.

“We don’t have to take a back seat to anyone in providing good quality of care, not only in the region but across the country,” says Dan Perdue, president of the Wyoming Hospital Association.

He points to new high-tech, soft-touch digital mammography at Evanston Regional Hospital and a new da Vinci surgical system at Memorial Hospital of Converse County. Cheyenne Regional Medical Center now has an epilepsy care unit, Washakie Medical Center opened a new cancer treatment center, Ivinson Memorial Hospital has launched a women’s health program and Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County received a $3.1 million cancer grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to purchase state-of-the-art cancer radiation treatment equipment.  

Perdue notes that major renovations are underway at five hospitals, and a new cancer center at CRMC is unfolding. US News recognized Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for its pulmonology specialty programs in its annual 2013 Best Hospitals ranking, and four Wyoming hospitals were named to the iVantage Top 100 Performing Critical Access Hospitals list.

Critical Care

One Wyoming hospital gaining national notice is Washakie Medical Center. In 2013, the hospital was named to the HealthStrong Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the United States list.

“This shows our team’s dedication to our patients and the pride they take in their work,” says CEO Margie Molitor. 

The ranking also illustrates Molitor’s conviction that bed size does not determine quality of care. “When we take people on a tour, they are impressed with our capabilities. For a small hospital, they are astounded at everything we offer,” she says.

Newer technologies include 3-D mammography, along with remote ICU monitoring, known as i-Care, with remote critical care nurses and intensivists helping monitor patients for early trends.

“We've seen an increase in our ability to keep patients here instead of needing to transfer to other facilities,” Molitor says.

Comprehensive Care in Casper

Wyoming Medical Center’s location in the center of the state is a major advantage for residents. The medical center is  a tertiary referral hospital, handling referrals for all levels of specialty care from surrounding counties. The 719,000-square-foot facility is staffed by 170 physicians and houses 45 specialist capabilities, including trauma, robotic surgery, open heart, neurosurgery, cardiac care, stroke care, and women's and children's care.

“We have the whole scope of services you need from a hospital that takes care of very acute patients, with full time, in-house intensivists, and hospitalists that manage our medical patients, as well as pediatric hospitalists to manage our newborns and pediatric patients,” Diamond says.

In addition to its outstanding cardiac care program, Wyoming Medical Center has received a Gold Plus rating for three years by the American Heart Association for its Joint Commissioned stroke care center. Continuous rapid renal replacement therapy for acute patients and the new Mini-Maise procedure for patients suffering chronic atrial fib are available.

“We also have a very aggressive minimalist invasive suite in our radiology department where we do vascular procedures instead of open procedures,” Diamond says.

Medical Home on the Range

To service the state's low-density population, Wyoming’s acute-care hospitals formed the Wyoming Integrated Care Network, with the goal of providing patient-centered homes, where a patient has a continuous relationship with a personal physician and care is coordinated for both wellness and illness. Wyoming Medical Center also sends its specialists by airplane to clinics in rural areas.

In Molitor's experience, although Wyoming’s hospitals may be smaller than those in urban areas, “small hospitals provide better care, because it is more personalized care. Our patients are our neighbors and our friends, and that brings an additional level of accountability.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michaela Jackson has worked as a reporter for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as a freelance writer for a variety of regional and national magazines.