by Rachelle Schultz, EdD, Winona Health president/CEO
This week we are celebrating Hospital Week at Winona Health, and it is more fitting than ever that we do so. We all have a mental image of what we think a hospital is and why it is there; and most often that image is based on history and/or experience. It is not wrong, but it is not a complete picture of Winona Health today.
Winona Health has a rich and deep history grounded and grown over the decades with the community’s and the region’s healthcare needs. And the times continue to change. What I admire and value so much about this organization is the people who make it the organization that it is. We continue to evolve and grow in unique and certainly community and patient-centric ways.
Winona Health put a stake in the ground nearly eight years ago to be a different kind of health care organization – one that stays true to its mission and focuses on the population we care for – our regional community. To that end, we have specific arrangements with our respective payors (Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurance) to focus on the health and well-being of our patients, and we mean that in its broadest sense. Through these relationships, we work together to lower the cost of health care, ensure top-quality care and outcomes, and engage with our patients to support their needs. There are various names for this approach, but the bottom line is this is the most patient- and community-centered approach I have seen anywhere in all my years in health care.
We know the current system is extremely costly and leaves many out. Fortunately, Winona Health has an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, much like our community, and is willing to test boundaries and create a better way forward. We have been successful in our population health approaches as year over year we have reduced the total cost of care and our associated quality metrics are very strong. Further, as we advance this model, we more deeply understand the specific needs of individuals in our service region, which has in turn led to working more outside our walls.
A population health approach takes a community. Our many partnerships are instrumental in advancing health and well-being and, together, we do this through our community HUB. This HUB coordinates many types of services (e.g., housing, social, employment, food, and more) and helps connect services that support our family, friends and neighbors. Interestingly, there is a paradox in the population health approach — to be successful, we need to deeply and personally know each individual. Our teams of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, techs, therapists, assistants, aides, and our full support team are top notch in this regard. In fact, it was this work that held us in good stead as we navigated the pandemic this past year.
And as our society breaks open with new challenges and questions, Winona Health will rise to the challenge. We embraced the need to expand our awareness and sensitivity to diversity, equity and inclusion several years ago. And while we believed we did a good job in this regard, we have learned more and challenged ourselves more, and will do even better. Incorporating this more deeply into our culture is long-term work and we are here for the long term. No one in our community should be afraid. Period.
Improving health and well-being and saving lives come in many forms. We have caregivers and staff who have been here for 50-plus years, as well as just a few weeks, but we all share a heart for making a difference for others. As we celebrate Hospital Week, I want to thank our board of directors, medical staff, clinicians, support staff, volunteers, and my fellow leaders at Winona Health. Our community hospital is not a building – it is the hearts and minds of extraordinary people who extend themselves in service to others. And that is something to celebrate.