Mercy Memorial Hospital has served the health needs of Champaign County since 1951. But the origin of the hospital can be traced back seven years earlier to a meeting of community leaders at the Urbana Country Club.
Seventy-two years ago this month, a group of 70 industrial and civic leaders met to discuss the need for a community hospital. The result of that Nov. 29 meeting was the formation of a hospital association to develop a practical, workable plan for a hospital.
That group remains active today as the Mercy Memorial Hospital Association, which continues to support and fund hospital technology and equipment improvements to better serve the community. Since its existence, the hospital association has contributed millions of dollars to improve community health through hospital initiatives.
“Our hospital never would’ve been built without the Mercy Memorial Hospital Association,” said Kim Jerger, MMH administrator. “They have established quite a legacy, and their impact is just as important today.”
The group’s original vision came to fruition when the new hospital was blessed and dedicated on Aug. 19, 1951. Through a county-wide campaign, the MMH Association exceeded its goal of $300,000. The group also arranged for the Sisters of Mercy to own and operate the facility. Today, the hospital is part of Mercy Health, the largest health system in the state.
A two-day open house was held for the community in September 1951, and thousands turned out for the event that created one of the few recorded traffic jams in Urbana history. According to one newspaper account, “Weary trustees and foot-sore hostesses had no time to keep a tally of the crowds that lined up two abreast outside the hospital doors most of the afternoon. Visitors and their vehicles grew so dense that traffic on state routes 36 and 29 was hampered.”
Mercy Memorial Hospital still draws a large crowd to its emergency department, which is the most frequent point of access to the hospital. They treat 45-50 patients every day, which is about double the volume of comparable hospitals across the country.
“We treat a full spectrum of emergency patients, from those with more routine problems to those with chest pain and stroke symptoms,” said Jerger. “For those more serious cases, timing is critical. We exceed national benchmarks for providing appropriate intervention.”
One of their technological advances is the Telestroke program with which they have full access to Ohio State University neurologists who see and evaluate stroke patients in real time. MMH provides the critical initial treatment and collaborates with OSU on other phases of care.
Overall, the MMH emergency department exceeds national benchmarks for throughput, which means they are seeing, diagnosing, treating and releasing or admitting patients without an extended wait. The majority of the patients who go to the ED see a physician within 30 minutes and, if discharged, are able to leave in about 1 ½ hours.
Hospital officials and the MMH Association provided other recent updates:
Inpatient: For those who need to be admitted, statistics show that MMH is a top performer for length of stay and hospital readmission, as compared to similar hospitals nationally. In general, that means they are providing appropriate treatment in the right amount of time, rather than unnecessarily using hospital resources that result in more expensive stays. This year they’ve experienced an 8 percent increase in inpatient volume with a wide range of medical conditions. One of the reasons they’re able to stay on top of cases so effectively is they have dedicated inpatient hospital physicians and nurse practitioners only for MMH patients.
Surgery: On top of the surgeons already performing procedures at MMH, they announced the addition of a new general surgeon, Megan Arndts, DO. They are also working to expand their ability to perform GI procedures, such as endoscopies and colonoscopies.
Other hospital services: MMH provides full-service inpatient and outpatient laboratory and radiology services. In addition to the MRI, CT and mammography services currently provided, starting in early 2017 they will have a mobile mammography unit with 3D imaging dedicated to Champaign County weekly. They provide cardiac rehabilitation and diagnostics, including stress tests, echocardiogram and pulmonary function tests. Other services provided at the hospital includ: a Swing Bed Program for patients needing physical rehab; Community Mercy REACH for outpatient alcohol, drug and tobacco treatment; and the Medication Management Clinic (formerly known as the Anticoagulation Clinic).
Clinic care: The Chronic Care Clinic opened at the hospital in spring 2015. By treating the ongoing issues of patients in this clinic, they quickly reduced hospital readmissions by 75 percent and have maintained that level.
Hospital Strength Index: A national health analytics company, iVantage, produces a hospital strength index that shows how MMH performs in comparison to other rural hospitals. The ranking is based on a variety of factors, including inpatient market share, outpatient market share, population risk, quality, outcomes, patient perspective, cost, charges and financial stability. Earlier this year, MMH ranked in the top quartile. They announced in the most recent rankings the hospital has improved to earn a spot in the top 10 percent.
Primary and specialty care: This summer Community Mercy Health Partners brought South Urbana Family Medicine and Mercy Well Child Pediatrics together to provide a broader range of services under one roof as Urbana Family Medicine and Pediatrics. They also have offices in Urbana for internal medicine, cardiology, orthopedics, general surgery, wound care, and sports medicine and rehabilitation. Excel Sports Medicine also serves Urbana University.
Access to other services: Right next door to the hospital is Mercy McAuley Center, which continues to provide skilled nursing care and earns the highest resident satisfaction scores in Champaign County.
In addition to a strong presence directly in Champaign County, they also provide access to other services within the Mercy Health system, such as the cancer center, sleep center and birthing center in Springfield.
“We couldn’t have provided the level of services and technology without strong community support,” said Jerger. “The Mercy Memorial Hospital Association has been an integral part of our success, raising millions for facilities, technology and equipment to provide care close to home for the residents of Champaign County. In recent year they have supported renovations for the Chronic Care Clinic, operating rooms and the emergency department, as well as the latest echocardiography technology. We are grateful for that support.”