Many other improvements, including behavioral health, are planned
■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
A little more than a week ago, Physicians for Healthy Hospitals Inc. (parent company of Hemet Valley Medical Center) cut the ribbon for the dedication of its new state-of-the-art cardiac cath lab. Political figures from throughout the valley as well as an assemblage of first responders, community members, doctors, nurses and first year interns all gathered round to hear what is happening with health care in the valley.
Dan McLaughlin, CEO of both the Hemet and Menifee Valley Medical Centers, was the primary speaker, and he outlined how 15 years ago, the plan to bring a heart center to the San Jacinto Valley required a bond initiative of $150 million dollars. The initiative failed, and was followed by economic challenges for all hospitals. Consequently, Valley Health Systems was forced into bankruptcy.
“A short time later,” explained McLaughlin, “a group of local physicians under the leadership of Dr. Kali P. Chaudhuri pulled together and took Hemet Valley Medical Center out of bankruptcy. It is tough to bring any kind of organization back from bankruptcy. Hospitals pose an even greater challenge,” because of the complexities of such an organization.
In early 2013-2014 more cash was required to prevent a financial stranglehold.
“Dr. Chaudhuri came to the rescue, investing millions to further the cause to take full ownership of the Hemet Valley Medical Center,” said McLaughlin. Since that time Dr. Chaudhuri (now chairman of the board) managed to bring in another $20 million dollars in investments “to move this hospital where it needs to be: A full state-of-the-art facility to serve our local community.
Chaudhuri was also the brain behind the successful Ulta, Sprouts and Burlington Coat Factory shopping center that opened last year in Hemet. Chaudhuri has been instrumental in bringing many businesses to Hemet and has invested millions of dollars in this community.
“Quality is the biggest measure of the public and accrediting entities for how hospitals perform,” continued McLaughlin. “I’m happy to report that our hospital is three year accredited with the highest mark for accreditation with a national accrediting entity out of Chicago.”
More good news: The hospital had its triennial survey by the State Department of Health with a positive outcome, receiving two 5-star Healthgrades awards for Hip Replacement and Hip Fractures Treatment.
The hospital has added millions of dollars in new equipment and technologies, and the new cath lab will make it easier for cardiac patients to stay in town for treatment. Tens of millions of dollars have been invested, including electronic medical record systems, general physical plant improvements campus-wide including paint, flooring, carpet, lighting and small modifications throughout various departments. Interventional radiology upgrades, including a radiation oncology department for cancer treatment and the deployment of image-guided radiotherapy.
McLaughlin elaborated many new upgrades to the hospital plant that makes Physicians for Healthy Hospitals proud to be in the forefront of improvements, often way ahead of establishments of similar or larger size.
“As I stand here today,” he said, “we are awaiting delivery of new laparoscopic equipment on this campus, valued at $300,000 dollars and for what today is recognizing in particular, the cardio cath lab, which includes the concomitant required seismic upgrades from Toshiba at a cost of $8.6 million. Standing behind this process is part of the original investment group to bring our hospital out of bankruptcy.
“This,” he declared, “is only Phase One of the Hemet Valley Heart Center. Phase Two is full development of the building and deployment of open heart surgery capabilities.”
The project is on the fast track with the goal to open by the end of 2017. With full open heart capabilities, the hospital will then pursue a certification of the emergency department so that any kind of heart attack can be treated there.
“No longer will the residents of this community need be taken out of town for cardiac care,” declared McLaughlin. Also in the plans are a Level 3 trauma center and a certified stroke center, a department of behavioral health, realignment of the endoscopy and cardiology suite, and an urgent care suite. He made many bold statements, concluding with, “nine years and four months from now I will see a medical metropolis that was grown here in the heart of the valley.”
The man behind the ideas, Dr. Chaudhuri, took the podium and delivered a powerful speech that sounded more like the coach of a champion sports team.
“I come from a black hole; the black hole of Calcutta. I had a dream. What is wrong that we should not dream? Anyone with a heart attack in our community, and I am promising, with God willing, nobody will have to go out of town by December 2017, no later than February 2018 for medical attention,” declared Chaudhuri.
“We will have dialysis of our own, not from out of town. We will have a stroke center. We will have a burn center and wound care here. It is a golden hospital. Some people have said they don’t like the hospital, but I ask them to please take a step inside and see the hospital. Tell us…is it better, or worse, or a dungeon?” joked Dr. Chaudhuri, to a burst of laughter from the crowd. “This is a medical center that covers all medical problems. A medical school is my dream. Who would want to go anywhere else? We’ve secured 49 new doctors. Hemet is good. Hemet is heaven. We will be the epicenter of the medical community.”
If there is a leader in this valley, his name is Dr. Kali P. Chaudhuri.