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Best healthcare possible

It was encouraging to see leadership with Centra Southside Community Hospital and Centra Health organize and interact with members of the public and patients during a Town Hall meeting Oct. 19.

Patients brought up a number of important issues they have experienced that include long wait times; having little interactions with the doctors, and appointments that last between 5-10 minutes; miscommunications between health providers and pharmacies; issues with the digital patient record system; health providers who appear uncaring or too busy to see patients, and doctors and health providers who stay a short time, and then leave.

They brought up really positive notes too, such as great interactions and care from empathetic and efficient staff, nurses, doctors and specialists, and holding the first of a series of town halls to gain community input.

Hospital CEO Tom Angelo and Centra Health Interim CEO Michael Elliott addressed concerns in a way that showed that they were aware of challenges, took the patient’s concern seriously and were looking into solutions.

“We’re not just here to prescribe medication, we’re here to take care of you and your family as an individual,” Elliott said during the Town Hall.

Angelo said emergency room (ER) wait times have been an issue. He said in 2004, there were approximately 18,000 visits annually. In 2015, there were approximately 37,000 visits. He said that caused serious backups in the appointments people can receive from health care providers. “If patients wait more than 3 hours in the emergency room, they are incredibly unhappy, and we know that because we have data that shows that,” Angelo said. “If it’s less than 3 hours, they are incredibly happy. And so we have to do a better job.”

As Angelo said Centra is the only health provider in the region for 52 miles, it’s important for these representatives to address what are serious concerns for patients. Doing so in a way that truly seeks to understand the experience and then looks for ways to change is something we at The Herald find encouraging.