Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 12, 2013

Health care sector sees new opportunities

BY AL PILONG President - Munson Medical Center
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Challenges to the health care sector will continue in 2014 as the hospital, physicians, and insurers adjust to requirements of the Affordable Care Act while continuing to provide safe, quality care for residents of our region.

However, 2014 will bring new opportunities as well.

Health Insurance Marketplaces, which opened in October as a result of the Affordable Care Act — and the recent vote by our state legislature to expand Medicaid coverage — are giving new options to the 13 percent of Michigan residents who are currently without health insurance.

For those who are uninsured in the greater Grand Traverse region, the opportunity to obtain health insurance will help provide them with access to preventive care through a primary care physician. We believe this will result in healthier people because regular visits to a health care provider can help catch problems early.

It also is true that when more residents in the region have access to a primary care physician, they will not need to use our Emergency Department as often. This helps reduce the cost of health care by ensuring the many resources of the Emergency Department are focused on trauma and emergency care, while preventive medicine and the treatment of minor illness and injury are handled in an environment with lower costs.

At Munson Medical Center, we also believe it is important to work collaboratively with other hospitals and to partner with physicians to ensure that our care is safe, efficient, and not redundant. Our relationship with physicians is invaluable in helping us redesign our care to meet the challenges of health care reform.

Our partnership with other hospitals, including those within the Munson Healthcare system, as well as Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids and University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor, bring specialists and clinics close to home, allowing patients and their families to stay in northern Michigan to receive care.

As we anticipate 2014, we are excited by the opportunity to break ground for the new Cowell Family Cancer Center. Munson has developed a vision for state-of-the-art cancer care for northern Michigan that will improve coordination of care and treatment options for cancer patients, and keep cancer care as close to home as possible.

The cancer center will be equipped with the best available cancer-fighting technology and treatments. It also will be designed to anticipate the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of each patient and transform the standard for cancer care in northern Michigan.

We appreciate the strong community support shown through nearly $16 million in donations for the cancer center project, and the ongoing trust that each patient and their family gives us as they come to Munson Medical Center for their care.

As someone new to the region, I am impressed by the dedication of our staff and physicians – and the quality of care that is provided each day.

While 2014 will provide both challenges and opportunities for the hospital, we remain confident in the support of our communities and the skill and dedication of everyone who wears a Munson Medical Center badge.

Our hospital has a long history in the pursuit of excellence. That encourages me, not only as the hospital’s president, but also as a health care consumer.