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Hospital, Norton strengthen relationship

Harrison County Hospital in Corydon and Norton Healthcare have had an affiliated relationship for more than 30 years, but a recent grant and agreement between the two entities provides even more opportunities for shared resources.
‘We’ve had a great working relationship with Harrison County Hospital for many years,’ Michael Esposito, system vice president for Norton, said. ‘This is taking it to another level.’
Norton officials and HCH executive director Steve Taylor introduced the affiliation Friday afternoon in the Parvin Baumgart Education Center at HCH.
Taylor said the affiliation is more solidified and closer to a full-service agreement.
The agreement will give HCH medical providers and staff full access to the extensive training, education and management development services provided by Norton University. Norton will also provide HCH staff access to Norton University management and leadership development classes, offered both in Louisville and Corydon, and Norton Healthcare’s management development conferences in Louisville.
It will develop new and existing clinical programs and services through extension of expertise and resources associated with Norton Healthcare’s Clinical Service Lines and Centers of Excellence to help make that care more available in the communities served by HCH. This will include the establishment of several new subspecialty clinics and clinical services.
The agreement will allow for better coordination and continuity of care for patients who do require specialized or tertiary care and need to seek that care outside of the communities served by HCH. It also will better position HCH to be able to manage the inevitable but unknown changes that are rapidly coming to the health care industry under health care reform.
Taylor also announced HCH, as a result of its affiliation with Norton, is one of three rural hospitals in Kentucky and Indiana to receive a grant to install telemedicine equipment.
The grant, made by North Healthcare Foundation, resulted from funding provided through the United States Department of Agriculture Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, according to a press release compiled by HCH.
It is a three-year grant, Esposito said.
The grant, along with matching funds from Norton Healthcare (USDA’s portion totaled nearly $240,000), will pay for medical carts outfitted with video conferencing equipment and peripheral devices such as digital stethoscopes that will connect to specialists operating laptop control stations at Norton Healthcare’s five hospitals in Louisville. The carts provide a way for the large hospital specialists to be at the patient’s bedside for examination, consultation, referrals and prescriptions. Through the video connection, the physicians can also access the patient’s medical records and document their own notes into the system. With an emphasis on pulmonary, cardiology, neurology and critical care, the project plans to reduce the number of patient transfers, outmigration of patients outside of their communities and the risk of transferring critically ill patients. It will also decrease the overall cost of patient care while increasing the quality of personalized care.
The other two hospitals selected to participate in the grant are both in Kentucky, Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center in Leitchfield and Carroll County Memorial Hospital.
The technology provided by the grant will be available by mid-summer, Esposito said.
‘As an affiliate of Norton Healthcare, Harrison County Hospital will enjoy the best of both worlds: access to the resources of the leading health system in Louisville while retaining local ownership and leadership in daily operations,’ Taylor said. ‘As the beginning stages of this enhanced relationship, Norton Healthcare will help us build clinical and management excellence through access to the broad array of education and training courses available through Norton University. The agreement also provides the opportunity to work with Norton Healthcare to further develop our clinical programs and services. We are ecstatic to have achieved this new affiliation agreement.’
Taylor also gave a brief update Friday about HCH. He said the hospital registered 111,000 patients in 2011 and the number of births last year nearly doubled from 2010.
Emergency room patients numbered 15,000 last year. The hospital generated about $4.5 million in positive cash flow last year, Taylor said, making it one of the top years in its history.