EDWARDSVILLE — While there may still be undercurrents of discontent in the nursing staff, Wilkes-Barre General Hospital’s board meeting Thursday was nothing but upbeat news.
Cor Catena, CEO of the hospital’s parent company, Commonwealth Health, rattled off a list of improvements and expansions during a short presentation:
• Patient satisfaction — saying they were “always satisfied” with their care at the facility — is at 72.3 percent, above national rate of 70 percent. Catena conceded the hospital is still struggling to maintain a “quiet environment,” but that steps have been taken, including closing patient doors, replacing squeaky wheels on carts and working to keep voice levels low outside the room.
• Commonwealth Health had promised to spend $135 million on capital improvements within seven years after buying the hospital in 2009, and has already reached that mark. Catena said almost $6 million has been spent so far this year.
• Since 2012, the hospital has recruited 28 physicians in needed specialties, including a second neurologist coming on board in September.
• Partnered with the Reading Health Physician Network to offer an in vitro fertilization clinic.
• Relocated therapy services to the Waterfront complex in Plains Township, and opened obstetricts/gynecology offices and lab services there.
• Introduced the “Marshall Steele” program for orthopedics, named after an orthopedic surgeon who started a program in Maryland to improve care, including educating the patient before a joint procedure and assuring strong post-procedure care.
• Forging an affiliation with CVS Caremark to electronically transfer patient records to local pharmacies. The hospital will also partner with CVS in opening local “Minute clinics” centers that can provide some urgent care to patients.
• Expansion of the da Vinci robotic surgery program with the purchase of the new da Vinci Xi system
Asked about the recurring issues with nurses, who have complained about under staffing, spokeswoman Renita Fennick said that “negotiations are ongoing,” and that the hospital has not received any notice of a possible strike. Nurses must give at least 10 days notice.