Gateway Regional Medical Center celebrates 10 years under current ownership

2012-12-07T00:15:00Z 2013-04-19T11:05:13Z Gateway Regional Medical Center celebrates 10 years under current ownershipJim Merkel
December 07, 2012 12:15 am  • 

Ten years after St. Elizabeth's Hospital became Gateway Regional Medical Center, officials of the center say it's in the pink of health, both financially and in its ability to provide good medical care.

Community Health Systems of Franklin, Tenn., bought the hospital at 2100 Madison Ave. from the Sisters of Divine Providence in 2002 and gave it a new name. Then, it started making $43 million in investments in the building and equipment that officials say improved the bottom line and quality of care.

"It's very good, very solid financially," center Chief Operating Officer Jim Flynn said. 

The medical center will celebrate 10 years under the ownership of Community Health Systems at a celebration from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 13 in the hospital's main lobby.

Center Director of Human Resources Ron Payton, 67, a 40-year veteran of the facility, said times were not easy for the facility before the purchase.

"We were having real difficulty financially. We were like a lot of other faith-based, stand-alone hospitals," Payton said.

Dr. Michael Adams, chief medical official at Gateway Regional who has worked at the hospital for 16 years, said dwindling resources made it hard for St. Elizabeth's to keep up with health care technology. "There was commitment. There was just not resources," he said. 

"With the acquisition by Community Health Systems, that catapulted our investment in technology into a whole new realm," Adams said. 

Among the medical technology Gateway acquired were a da Vinci Surgical System for doing surgery through small incisions, imaging equipment, two CT scanners, a nuclear medical camera and digital mammography equipment.

Besides upgrading the technology, officials also made improvements to the building. The emergency room was renovated in 2003 and exterior renovations were finished in 2008. Patient rooms were upgraded in 2010 and parking was expanded in 2011.

Today, the medical center has 950 employees and 367 beds, a number that hasn't changed much since 2002; additional employees have been added at the Highland, Edwardsville and Collinsville locations.

New facilities outside of the Granite City facility have included the Edwardsville Imaging Center, the Edwardsville Sleep Disorders Center, Heartland Healthcare of Collinsville, Heartland Healthcare of Wood River and the Wound and Hyperbaric Center.

The hospital has had 91,164 surgical procedures, admitted 93,276 patients, and treated 265,559 patients in the emergency room from January 2002 to October 2012, according to figures provided by hospital Spokeswoman Kate Allaria.

This year, for the second year in a row, the medical center received recognition from The Joint Commission, a leading accreditation body for health care organizations in America. The center was named one of the nation’s Top Performers on Key Quality Measures such as heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care.

Flynn sees several challenges in the future, including Medicare reimbursement payments and caring for an aging population — issues that every hospital faces. 

The improvements at Gateway Regional have helped the community, said Granite City Economic Development Director Jonathan Ferry. 

"They've definitely done a very good job of strengthening the hospital, improving the quality of health care in the city," Ferry said.

Contact reporter Jim Merkel at 618-344-0264, ext. 138

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