Steris representative Ben Gomex demonstrates the benefits of the high-tech surgical lights in one of the new operating rooms.

Ravenna – Robinson Memorial Hospital is positioning itself as a forward-thinking, 21st-century countywide health care provider. During the open house of its new state-of-the-art surgical services department on October 25, the hospital also showcased its plan to phase out its antiquated management structure.

Renovated Surgical Services

The $20 million renovation project nearly doubled the old surgical department from 19,000 to 38,000 square feet. The open house highlighted eight new operating room suites, larger and private preoperative and postoperative bays with skylights, an endoscopy procedure room, lockers for patients’ belongings, private consultation rooms, a larger (triple the size) waiting area for friends and family, and a private patient pick-up area at the rear of the hospital. New technological advances include real-time digital imaging, boom-arm technology to float equipment overhead rather than on the floor, high-definition overhead monitors, and air-handling units with ultraviolet emitters to reduce microorganisms.

The project also includes new office space for Surgical Services employees, locker rooms for staff and surgeons, physician and staff lounges, a dictation area for surgeons, a meeting room and three on-call rooms. Renovation began in 2009.

Robinson Memorial Hospital has 47 board-certified physicians and surgeons in the Surgery Department and conducts approximately 10,000 surgeries per year. Surgical specialties include podiatry, urology, gynecology, orthopaedics, ENT, gastroenterology, spine, oral maxillofacial, general, plastic, pain medicine, thoracic and vascular.

Opting Out of the County Plan

During a pre-open house meeting with media representatives, RMH President and CEO Stephen Colecchi, FACHE, shared a proposal he has made to Portage County Commissioners to transition the hospital from being county-run to being operated as a not-for-profit independent organization, governed by a local board of trustees by 2013. (Although it’s an entity of Portage County government, the hospital has not drawn from county tax revenues since the 1980s, and has been self-sufficient ever since, Colecchi said.)

Combatting a pervasive stigma from being a county-owned hospital, Colecchi called RMH “our most important community asset.” He reminded media that RMH is the county’s second-largest employer (after Kent State University), generating 16,000 local jobs and  $500 million annually, underscoring the hospital’s “significant economic impact.”

He went on to say that there are only nine county-run hospitals left in Ohio, and RMH is the second largest in the state (after Metro Hospital in Cleveland). Reportedly, 80 percent of hospitals in Ohio are now run as not-for-profit entities. RMH administrators would like to opt out of county requirements and restrictions that mandate government retirement benefits and prevent the hospital from attracting top physicians and surgeons.

RMH Achievements

Five years ago, RMH became affiliated with SUMMA Health System, which allows the hospital to retain local management while offering health care services from “one of the best regional health care providers” available, according to Colecchi. In August, RMH was reinstated as a Magnet Hospital, joining only 391 hospitals worldwide to achieve that gold standard in nursing excellence. RMH is the first adult hospital in the tri-county area to achieve this distinction, and the first to ever be reinstated as such, Colecchi added.

Also this year, RMH was named among the 65 Best Community Hospitals in the U.S., according to Becker’s Ranking, based on patient outcome measurements.

“We’re one of only a handful of community hospitals that can claim the Big Three: Best Overall Clinical Care; Best Nursing; and Best Place to Work in the region for the ninth year,” Colecchi said.

In the Beginning

RMH originated in 1917 as privately-owned White Hospital (at the current location of the Ravenna Post Office). Then, in 1932, the county passed a $50,000 bond issue to re-establish the hospital on South Meridian Street at the current location of the Portage County administration building, named for judge George F. Robinson and his wife, Mary. The county hospital expanded at that location until the mid-1970s, when it became landlocked.

A $4 mill property tax bond was passed in 1973, to purchase two farms covering 100 acres on North Chestnut Street. Construction of the new hospital began there in 1977. The completion of the hospital’s new surgical services wing last week marked the last area of needed renovation since the hospital was built according to 1970s-era styles and technologies.

The next step for Robinson’s techno-transformation is to transition to paperless electronic medical records with online portals so patients can access their own records from their personal computers. The $39 million project should be completed in four to five years.