A new look, a new name and $8.7 million in improvements have transformed DeKalb Health in the last few months.
In fact, those who haven't recently experienced the former DeKalb Memorial Hospital might think they've arrived at a different destination.
“If they haven't been here in the last year, they wouldn't know it if they drove up today,” CEO Kirk Ray said.
Improvements and innovations took the forefront, starting with a vastly improved emergency room department. The entire emergency area was remodeled and reworked, with the addition of private rooms and an emphasis on “express care,” enabling patients to be treated quicker and more efficiently.
“Our run rate on emergencies is up about 25 percent since we opened in October,” Ray said. “Going up 25 percent in six months is a phenomenal improvement. The Fast Track ER provides a faster level of service at a lower cost to community members. And about 80 percent of our emergencies come through that.”
The ER has added a number of improvements in technology as well, to help with the enhanced imaging that is done with MRIs and other necessary diagnostic tools.
The atmosphere has been improved to offer a more soothing experience.
“Previously, our MRIs were actually in an outdoor, portable semitrailer that wasn't conducive to patients' comfort level,” Ray said. “Now we have an area in-house with natural light, a tropical scene on the ceiling, iPods linked to music so they can listen to what they want, and just more to make patients comfortable.”
DeKalb Health also offers an imaging center for women, one that has a more “boutique feel,” Ray said. The idea is to enable patients to feel more at ease during treatments and assessments.
Another part of the $8.7 million project was an improvement in the intensive care unit. Many patients in the past were transferred to larger hospitals, but DeKalb Health has now doubled the numbers of patients who can receive full treatment on site, Ray said.
DeKalb Health is also taking a proactive approach to its wellness program, working with local businesses in preventative health care. It also provides athletic trainers for six area high schools.
The name change was meant, finally, to emphasize the full reach of the entity, Ray said.
“We offer a lot more than just hospital services,” Ray said. “We want to find ways to keep people out of the hospital and become more a part of their own health care. That's something we're going to continue to promote.
“We have to compete in accessibility, patient perception and satisfaction,” Ray said.
“If we're not doing it well, there are a lot of other choices around.”