Enloe bounces back

Congratulations are in order for Enloe Medical Center, which last week got a clean bill of health from state officials for its full compliance with Medicare conditions of participation. This is a clear sign of positive change under the leadership of CEO Debi Yancer and COO Mike Wiltermood.

The past year—the first of Yancer’s tenure—has been extremely difficult. In addition to inheriting three wrongful-death/malpractice lawsuits, she had to respond to two Department of Health Services surveys that found the hospital out of compliance with several of the 23 Medicare conditions of participation. DHS suspended Enloe’s “deemed” status and twice fined it $25,000.

It didn’t help that in the middle of all this Yancer suffered a spinal-cord injury that kept her house-bound for weeks. Still, the work of reinventing the hospital continued. The problem-plagued anesthesia team was rehabilitated and upgraded. A new patient-centered model of care called Planetree was implemented. Construction began on the facility’s much-needed expansion.

The news last week that a DHS revalidation survey had found the hospital in full compliance marked a turning point. It’s been stressful for all at the hospital to have state officials monitoring them so closely, but clearly it’s also been helpful. Now that they have mastered the Medicare conditions of participation, they can relax a little as they do what they do best: practice the art of medicine.

One immediate hurdle remains: negotiating a fair contract with the hospital’s service workers. Right now management and the union are far apart on the issues of wages and benefits. Workers picketed (though didn’t strike) last Friday.

We’re hopeful and confident they will work out their differences. That’s been Enloe’s story for the past year: overcoming challenges to create a hospital its employees are proud of and its patients can trust.