Frick Hospital strives to stay ahead of curve

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

For more than a century, Mt. Pleasant and the surrounding community have been able to enjoy top quality health care in a comforting and intimate setting in what is now Excela Health Frick Hospital.

Mt. Pleasant Memorial Hospital opened its doors with 67 beds on Main Street until the “new” Henry Clay Frick Community Hospital welcomed patients in 1965. Since then, it has grown and become Excela Health Frick Hospital.

The facility has contributed to the area as a premiere health and wellness facility, and strives to stay abreast of all of the state-of-the-art health equipment and care.

The facility, which has a bed capacity of 102, has enjoyed growth in many areas over the years, while striving to meet the community's needs.

“We are always looking at what changes we may have to make to meet the needs of our patients and our staff,” said Lonna Paterline, vice president of patient service. “We are proud to offer quality care in a family-like environment.”

In recent years, one big improvement the facility celebrated was its new mammography suite and imaging area, a top-of-the-line unit that offers women numerous choices in services, officials noted.

Other Frick services include women's care services, providing a range of breast health services and bone density scanning, as well as an Outpatient Services Center featuring a centralized outpatient registration area with quick, convenient patient registration surrounded by a variety of outpatient testing areas and services, drawing together nuclear medicine, pulmonary function lab, stress lab, EKG, EEG, echocardiography, X-ray, ultrasound and mammography for “one-stop shopping.”

“We have many women who come here now that used to travel far distances to have things like mammograms done,” said Judy Raishart, director of imaging services.

She added that another new feature is the state-of-the-art MRI machine, which is smaller and more open than traditional units.

“The MRI satisfies the needs of people who may feel claustrophobic in a regular MRI,” Raishart said. “It's short, wide and part of the body will remain outside.”

The facility works with the Hospitalist Program, which involves “hospital specialists” or fully-trained physicians whose primary role is to provide general medical care of patients in the hospital.

“The concept is that this program allows your family physician to stay in his office to take care of his patients there,” Paterline said, explaining that the physicians in the program check on the hospital patients then report back to the patients' physicians without them having to visit the facility. “It's a great way for them to help one another while still providing excellent patient care.”

Frick's emergency room unit has the capacity to work with technicians on a 24-hour basis and has been ranked one of the best emergency centers in Pennsylvania.

The facility is one of the areas largest employers, with 460 employees. Many have been with the hospital for several years while new professional personnel have been added on a regular basis.

“I like it here,” said Karen Blose, an emergency room nurse and 25-year employee. “It's home.”

The most recent upgrade the facility has enjoyed is the newly enhanced technology area for cardiac care patients in the critical care unit, with extended critical care capabilities and remodeled private patient rooms.

“This is good growth for both the staff and the patients,” said Jennifer Barrick, progressive care unit manager. “The staff has all been working very well together and everyone is working well with all of the new technology that the unit provides.”

Phase three of the remodeling in now under way and will include upgrades to the progressive care unit.

“We are moving into phase three and it's really exciting,” Barrick said. “We want to do everything that we can to make our patients feel comfortable.”

Working well and working as a team is stressed highly at Frick, and Excela Health CEO Robert J. Rogalski said the secret to a successfully run facility lies behind the strength and cooperation of the staff.

“Our goal has been to raise the level of commitment and respect for each other,” Rogalski said. “We want to continually improve and be the best that we can be.”

Volunteers are a major part of the facility's operation as well. Area residents fill several important parts in the hospital on a volunteer basis and work for hundreds of hours every year.

“I really like volunteering here,” Dorothy Wagner of Scottdale said.

Wagner has been volunteering at Frick for nearly 40 years. “It's a nice place and I like seeing all the people.”

“We focus on teamwork, we focus on quality and we focus on our patients,” Rogalski said. “Our commitment to the Mt. Pleasant community is long-standing.

“Over the last several years, we have upgraded Frick's emergency department, physical therapy and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation areas, and welcomed several new physicians to the Frick medical staff. Our commitment here is high and we plan to continually improve.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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