Robert Braithwaite, president and CEO of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Orange County, Calif., said being a smaller health system in a pandemic proved powerful.
“A lot of people worried for us, and in reality, it proved to be a significant advantage,” he told Becker’s. “We were much more nimble and much more impactful in our community than if we’d had to work through multiple layers of a larger health system.”
As COVID-19 raged throughout the state, Hoag managed to exceed its care standards.
“When we did the look back on how we did from a quality-of-care standpoint with CMS indicators, patient satisfaction … all of those things went up,” he said. “So in the middle of this pandemic, something many of us were experiencing for the first time, we actually saw improvements in quality, and improvements in satisfaction that we did not anticipate.”
Hoag has spent the last decade expanding its outreach with the openings of multiple centers and clinics in communities throughout the county. Its newest clinic, Fly Well, is in John Wayne Airport. Mr. Braithwaite plans to continue expanding post-pandemic by focusing primarily on the ambulatory and virtual spaces.
“The pandemic brought almost an end to geographic exclusivity for healthcare services,” he said. “You can get health services more broadly and you can overcome geographic barriers.”
Hoag’s latest challenge is overseeing high volumes of patients whose medical conditions have worsened in the last year due to fear of contracting COVID-19 at a healthcare facility.
“That’s putting pressure on the acuity and the intensity of services that’s disproportionate to a normal cycle or trend that we would see,” he said.
As he reflected on this last year, Mr. Braithwaite said a key takeaway was the importance of county, state and federal coordination.
“There were lots of moving parts and lots of contradictory policies that were emerging, and when we were able to sync up, at least at the county level, we saw progress faster and much better care,” he said. “More collaboration across the public health spectrum would be really helpful to not only us, but statewide.”
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