Mercy Health Responds Rapidly to Pandemic

YOUNGSTOWN – Mercy Health-Youngstown’s plans to improve access to care and expand its footprint suddenly shifted last year to figuring out how to adapt to the pandemic. 

“This pandemic brought out the very best in our associates who knew that they were answering their call to serve and channeled the mission of our organization at a time when the health care community faced much uncertainty,” says Dr. John Luellen, president of Mercy Health-Youngstown.

As the state ordered a pause on elective surgeries and Mercy suspended in-person visitations, workers looked to provide care in nontraditional ways.

“These decisions were difficult to make, knowing that residents still needed access to new and routine health care. We needed to act quickly and this agility is something I’m immensely proud of,” says Luellen.

Mercy launched its virtual visit and enhanced its e-visit platform, allowing patients to speak virtually to their physicians from the safety of their homes. Using platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime, bedside health care workers were able to connect patients with their loved ones.

Now that vaccines have arrived, Mercy’s focus is shifting back to its pre-pandemic strategies.

“Enhancing access to care and meeting patients when and where they need us most was evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to influence our care delivery model,” Luellen says.

Beyond adding more doctors or offices, that mission is addressing social determinants of health, such as education, access to healthful food and social injustice.

“We’ve become increasingly accountable for the health needs of Mahoning County,” says Dr. James Kravec, Mercy’s chief clinical officer. “As the sole provider for much of the tri-county area, we pledge to continue to be focused on the social determinants of health that impact the population of patients we serve.”