Ch@t: Maternity Care Center latest step in ‘improving the health of the local community’

Posted 3/20/20

Siler City’s Chatham Hospital’s new five-bed Maternity Care Center is the newest addition to the facility by UNC Hospitals. This week, we speak with Chatham Hospital President Dr. Jeffrey …

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Ch@t: Maternity Care Center latest step in ‘improving the health of the local community’

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Siler City’s Chatham Hospital’s new five-bed Maternity Care Center is the newest addition to the facility by UNC Hospitals. This week, we speak with Chatham Hospital President Dr. Jeffrey Strickler. Stricker joined UNC Hospitals in 2003, and in additional to that role, he serves as vice president for Hillsborough Hospital and as the regional administrator for UNC Health Care’s operations in Chatham and Rockingham. Previously, he was the Clinical Nurse Director responsible for Emergency Services at UNC Medical Center. Dr. Strickler’s clinical background is as a Registered Nurse and Paramedic with extensive experience in Emergency, Trauma and Transport Nursing.

In addition, he functions as adjunct faculty at UNC’s Gilling’s School of Global Public Health where he developed a course on Hospital Operations and also an allied faculty member with the Tillman College of Business at the University of Mount Olive. Besides his bachelor’s degree in nursing, Dr. Strickler also has a masters in Management and a Doctorate in Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Let’s start with COVID-19. How has Chatham Hospital responded to the pandemic?

From a response standpoint, I can tell you that Chatham Hospital is in constant communication with local, state, and UNC Health representatives. We have a fully developed response plan so that we can screen and initially manage any COVID-19 patients as well as addressing continuity of our operations. As for policy changes, we have already instituted various screening questions and will begin to restrict visitation at Chatham Hospital. Our changes may be forthcoming as we enter into this public health emergency.

You’ve been with UNC Hospitals since 2003. Can you talk about your path to Chatham Hospital and outline your responsibilities there and within the larger umbrella of the UNC Hospitals organization?

My clinical background is as a Emergency Department registered nurse and paramedic. Much of my career was working for trauma centers in Tennessee, Kansas City, and now North Carolina. Five years ago, I was given responsibility to open and develop our Hillsborough Hospital campus. That campus’s alignment with Chatham Hospital led to my involvement with this great community hospital.

As the president, I am ultimately responsible for all daily operations that occurs at Chatham Hospital but delegate much of that work to our exceptional team of health care leaders. Working with input from our hospital board and executive team, I spend much of my personal time developing the strategic plan for services at this hospital as well as how we align and interact with the larger UNC Health system.

 

What are your priorities for Chatham Hospital and for the way it serves Chatham County?

The mission of Chatham Hospital is to serve our local residents and provide an access point for needed health care services. Our vision is to be the preferred provider so we particularly focus on providing high quality care and an exceptional patient experience. A key focus of UNC Health is to provide as much care as possible at the local level. To this end, we have been promoting our emergency, diagnostic, and rehab services while growing our capabilities in General Surgery and specialty surgeries such as Orthopedics, ENT, Gyn, and Ophthalmology.

Hospitals are more than care centers for those who are being treated for illnesses and injuries. What services does the hospital offer that people in Chatham County may not be aware of?

This question relates to a particular passion of mine. I believe that the local hospital should be a key leader in improving the health of the local community. We do so through a number of education and outreach efforts. For example, our chief nurse has played a leadership role in developing the county health assessment and plan. We have also taken leading roles related to combating the opioid crisis and addressing food insecurity. Other efforts relate to the care and experience of our older patients so we have invested in developing a geriatric Emergency Department program and training staff so Chatham Hospital can be recognized as a Dementia Friendly Hospital.

 

The new five-bed Maternity Care Center represents a $2.5 million investment by UNC Hospitals. Why is the maternity center so important to the hospital’s operation?

The lack of access to maternity care is a principle reason for the United States’ poor global ranking related to both maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Around the country, there has been a disturbing trend of hospitals closing maternity programs because of the lack of providers and the unreimbursed expense from such programs. UNC Health is working with our partners, Piedmonth Health Services and the Chatham County Health Department, hoping to reverse this trend by developing a cost effective model for the majority of deliveries that can be duplicated across the state and nation by developing a training pipeline that keeps care providers in the rural community.

 

Can you talk about the hospital’s role with the Chatham Health Alliance, and the focus there to improve access to health care here?

As I mentioned, our Chief Nurse was very involved in this assessment and developing the plan which has focuses on improving access and addressing obesity and poverty. Many of our hospital leaders are now serving on various sub-committees which are currently developing action plans to address these areas.

 

What’s the best way to find out more about Chatham Hospital?

Via the intranet, our website is www.chathamhospital.org or the UNC Health website at www.unchealthcare.org .

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