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Salem Regional Medical Center Is in Expansion Mode

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SALEM, Ohio — A recent expansion and another in the works, plus making greater strides to improve excellence in health care with new services, are driving growth at Salem Regional Medical Center.

Salem Regional, one of the few independent hospitals in northeastern Ohio, has carefully taken into consideration the needs of the nearby community, says its CEO, Dr. Anita Hackstedde. This assessment, she notes, has led to a system that is directly responsive to the major health-care concerns in Columbiana County.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in the last year and a half,” Hackstedde says. “We recognize that health care is a personal and local issue. When you’re an independent hospital, decisions are made by those who live and work in our community.”

In February 2014, Salem Regional opened its $42.5 million tower, where every patient has a private room, and has begun construction of a new oncology center, Hackstedde says. The center takes a much more patient-centered approach to comprehensive care and treatment – a direct answer to the high rates of cancer in Columbiana County and southern Mahoning County.

“Columbiana County has significantly higher incidence of cancer than other counties in Ohio – one of the highest. More patients are being diagnosed and there’s a higher mortality rate here,” she says.

“We’ve seen our volumes go up, so there was no option but to expand.”

The new oncology center will be triple the size of the existing unit. “We’re going from our current facility, which is 3,500 square feet, to about 12,000 square feet,” Hackstedde says.

It will include a community infusion and treatment center furnished with reclining chairs, a fireplace, and televisions for patients who receive chemotherapy, intravenous fluids, nutrition, antibiotics and blood therapy in a group setting. Other amenities are private treatment bays, private rooms, a new laboratory, an educational resource center, a conference room and a patient boutique.

In November Salem Regional launched a campaign to raise funds in support of the new center. “Our goal is $1.1 million in five years,” Hackstedde says. The outpouring of good will in the community vaulted that number to past $700,000 in just five months. “It shows that this was the right project that resonates through the community,” she comments.

George Morris, CEO of George Morris Financial Group and co-chairman of the campaign, says it’s important for the area to have the resources it needs to treat patients in their backyards rather travel long distances for care. “It makes it easier for the families that are here, especially with kids,” he says.

Morris and his wife, Cody, contributed generously to the campaign. He says businesses and residents hold Salem Regional in the highest regard and want it to thrive. “It’s both because it’s care close at hand,” he says, “and there’s an employment factor.”

New investment and development ensure that Salem Regional is well-positioned to serve the area, which “is important from a health-care perspective and a business perspective,” Morris says. The hospital, for example, employs about 1,000 – making it the largest employer in the county – and the fact that it remains independent is important to the residents of Salem.

Supporting the hospital was “an easy decision for those who live here,” Morris says. “My wife and I were proud to be early donors.”

Hackstedde say the new oncology suite is just one aspect of a larger development plan that includes a new orthopedics clinic and outpatient procedure rooms.

“We have an aging population,” she says, a factor that bolsters the need for services such as joint-replacement procedures. “It’s all part of assessing the public’s needs.”

Construction costs for the new oncology, orthopedics and outpatient centers are projected at $4.6 million. The projects should be completed by September.

All of this is part of a three- to five-year plan the hospital has in place to accomplish several projects, some still to be announced, Hackstedde says.

“We’ll have more programs to announce in several months,” she continues. “We have a combination of medical staff development – recognizing what kind of services we need from physicians, building plans – recognizing what kind of facilities we need to adjust, and what the needs of the community are.”

Salem Regional operates the only lung cancer screening program accredited by the American College of Radiology, Hackstedde points out. “That’s impressive because we started our lung cancer screening program just a few years ago,” she says. The hospital’s imaging program is so advanced that it’s rivaled only by the largest centers. “You’d have to go to Pittsburgh or Cleveland to find what we have,” she says.

The hospital is making its first foray into telemedicine with its telestroke program, Hackstedde notes. Through this program, patients and their doctors can have face-to-video consultation with other physicians with specialties in this field.

“We’d like to become a certified stroke center so patients don’t have to travel out of the area,” she says. “Together as a team we can decide on treatment, medication and have a more comprehensive program for patients. It helps reassure the patient that everyone’s got eyes on them.”

The program stands out further because the hospital has a neurologist on staff, which is unusual for a health center the size of Salem Regional. “Hospitals our size don’t have neurologists, the CEO points out. “But here, she gets to practice the way she wants to practice.”

It’s that sense of freedom that has helped draw new practitioners to Salem, Hackstedde says. While she acknowledges it’s difficult for hospitals in this area to recruit new physicians and bring them to the region, Salem has been successful in attracting new talent to the hospital. Those born and reared in this part of northeastern Ohio are most likely to return to the area to practice.

“We’ve had tremendous success in physician recruitment,” she says.

In recent years, Hackstedde says, Salem Regional has successfully recruited a neurologist, a new general surgeon, and expects to soon bring on board a new orthopedic surgeon.

“Our goal is to continue to grow,” Hackstedde says. “We can’t do everything for everybody, but what we’re going to do, we’re going to do with excellence and innovative approaches so that you only have to go outside of the area for truly the highest complex and rare cases.”

Dr. Anita Hackstedde is the CEO of Salem Regional Medical Center.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.