YNHH builds on success of first six months of SRC integration, plans for next six months

On the first day of integration, Richard D'Aquila greeted employees as they walked through the main lobby. Here he greeted Liz Cortes, secretary in Human Resources, and gave her a lanyard imprinted with the YNHH logo. D'Aquila has brought open forums and birthday party lunches to SRC — valuable ways to meet employees and hear what they have to say.
On the first day of integration, Richard D'Aquila greeted employees as they walked through the main lobby. Here he greeted Liz Cortes, secretary in Human Resources, and gave her a lanyard imprinted with the YNHH logo. D'Aquila has brought open forums and birthday party lunches to SRC — valuable ways to meet employees and hear what they have to say.

The smell of paint and the sound of saws and drills remind employees, visitors and patients that Yale-New Haven continues to invest in the physical plant of the Saint Raphael Campus since acquiring the former Hospital of Saint Raphael on September 12, 2012.

In the first six months, an additional 24 beds were re-opened with the renovation of the Sister Louise Anthony Unit on the third floor. Another 28 beds will be re-opened when renovations to Verdi 4 North are completed this summer. This unit is expected to serve as a prototype for other patient care units that will be renovated in the future.

Gaining additional capacity was a driving force for the acquisition because the York Street Campus is so frequently near capacity. Since the integration, the 533-bed Saint Raphael Campus is averaging 345 inpatients daily, up from a pre-integration average of 283. Many days, the SRC census fluctuates between 370 and 380. In December, Y-Access, the hospital's inpatient referral center, had a record number of referrals — 475 in one month, and the capacity on the SRC provides much needed beds and excellent care for patients.

"With budget cuts looming on the state and federal levels, we are accelerating integration activities," said Richard D'Aquila, president and COO. "We are working on many fronts to achieve efficiencies while we invest in the campus so it can grow to meet the increasing demands for our services."

D'Aquila notes that in the first quarter, YNHH inpatient volume was up an astonishing 4 percent while volume in Connecticut hospital decreased .8 percent.

"Yale-New Haven is a destination hospital that patients actively choose for themselves and doctors choose for the care of their patients," said D'Aquila. "Yale-New Haven's demonstrated safety and quality, the breadth and depth of our clinical programs and an excellent patient experience all contribute to our growth. The Saint Raphael Campus goes beyond alleviating capacity pressure. It is also going to help us expand as a destination hospital."

One of the hospital's central plans is to enhance Yale-New Haven's reputation as a destination hospital with a comprehensive musculoskeletal center — or MSC — to be built on the Saint Raphael Campus. A steering committee made up of key physicians and administrators is already reviewing program design and working with national consultants.

According to D'Aquila, the vision for the MSC is to develop multidisciplinary care teams for a full spectrum of care, create a care strategy for the region and Connecticut and to become a national leader in translational research as it applies to musculoskeletal diseases.

"The Saint Raphael Campus had — and continues to have — an extremely strong orthopedics program and the MSC will expand on that expertise and introduce a new and comprehensive model of care to the state of Connecticut," said D'Aquila, who expects to be able to unveil preliminary plans in the next four to five months.

In the meantime, the hospital continues to invest in the SRC physical plant and prepare for the full Joint Commission survey this summer. D'Aquila praised the efforts of staff who prepared rigorously and successfully for the recent Joint Commission extension survey on the Saint Raphael Campus.

"In the first 120 or so days, employees saw that we kept our promises and began the process of effectively integrating our two institutions," said D'Aquila, who spends approximately half of his time on the SRC. "I know from meeting with employees in the hallways, in open forums and now at the birthday parties that they sense that they are truly part of an organization that cares about them and that the place is actually going to grow — and with their help."

D'Aquila notes that all patient care beds have received new mattresses, hallways and units are being cleaned and painted, additional unit renovations are planned, and appropriate patient care technology is being installed on units. Plans are under way to combine clinics on both campuses and new locations are being considered.

In addition to operational success, D'Aquila points to financial achievements in the first six months.

"Before allowing our acquisition to proceed, we had to commit to federal and state regulators that we would eliminate $330 million in costs over the next five years. We are on target to beat our first-year goal," he said.

"In addition to increasing capacity, we are also streamlining contracts and services which helped us absorb some of the state cuts we experienced in the first quarter of the fiscal year," he explained. "We are also standardizing the supplyorder process on both campuses and that adds to our efficiency."

As he looks ahead to the next six months, D'Aquila is clearly pleased with what he sees.

"We have achieved many of our key early integration goals and are really on track to making our two campuses work as one hospital," said D'Aquila. "A successful consolidation with the help of a high-caliber workforce gives us the foundation we must have to provide excellent patient care, enhance our reputation as a destination hospital and grow in a thoughtful way that serves the medical needs of our community and our state."