Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

April 17, 2014

Editorial: Surgery Center's business model a template for future

Imagine an additional 10,000 patients per year cycling through Munson Medical Center’s main campus. And not just people there to get a broken arm looked at, but surgery patients.

That’s 27 patients a day on average, seven days a week, plus loved ones and friends who want to visit. Given Munson’s challenging geography — as in there’s not enough of it — squeezing that many more people in and out of those buildings, streets and parking lots every day would increase the stress level.

So 10 years ago the idea of building a stand-alone surgery center away from Munson’s main campus was inspired.

Today, the Northwest Michigan Surgery Center at Copper Ridge has six operating rooms and is adding two more. It specializes in elective surgeries, such as hernia repairs and in doing it quickly.

“Our rule is that we get people in and out,” said LoAnn Vande Leest, surgery center CEO. “They’re on time, they go home, they recover, they’re happy.”

Surgery centers are a growing trend, said Lynn Perry Wooten, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. They are efficient, they let patients spend more time at home, ease strains on hospitals and may reduce infection rates by separating surgery patients from sick patients.

Patients can’t go to surgery centers for diagnostic or nonsurgical procedures and aren’t allowed to stay more than 23 hours.

And perhaps most important for Munson and other surgery patients, they don’t take up precious space and time. The surgery center gave those seeking elective surgery a status they didn’t have before.

“A lot of the patients that could have their procedures done and go home the same day were having to get scheduled later in the day,” said Tina Piotrowski, the Surgery Center’s clinical director. “It was really putting extra stress on an already full operating room schedule at Munson.”

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