In the four years since Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) acquired Milton Hospital, the 113-year-old hospital has expanded its specialty care services, ensuring that local patients have access to top physicians and treatments without having to travel into Boston.
The partnership brought significant changes to the 88-bed community hospital, including bridging the divide for patients seeking downtown specialists but wanting to receive that care in their local community. And BID-Milton has successfully grown its specialty care practices by acknowledging the strengths of both hospitals, says Chief Medical Officer Ashley Yeats, MD.
“The partnership is a wonderful example of how a community hospital can flourish and continue to serve a local community with world-class care by maintaining access to downtown,” he says “They brought access to tertiary care and this cadre of specialists, but they are very respectful of what we brought to the table in terms of knowledge and our long history of excellent physicians and providing community care. It is a rewarding, supportive and respectful partnership.”
BID-Milton Chief Medical Officer Ashley Yeats praises the partnership.
Peter Healy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton
BID-Milton’s CEO Peter Healy says the clinical affiliation and system-wide integration has allowed the hospital to bring 19 specialist physicians in 15 subspecialties to the community, something that would never have been possible without the partnership.
“It is good for us because it allows us to develop additional clinical programs, and it’s a big win for patients because they can now see the same providers as downtown without the hassles and expense of traveling into Boston,” he explains. “It is good for insurance providers and the consumer because this is a low-cost community hospital setting. It is good for physicians because they are interested in building practices and growing market share, and it’s a nice break for them to get out of the academic medical center and practice in a community setting that is entirely clinically focused. When it works well, and it does here, it is good for healthcare economics.”
BIDMC orthopedic spine surgeon Andrew White, MD, says that while BID-Milton Hospital has always been a leader in delivering community care, access to specialty and subspecialty care was, in some cases, limited.
BIDMC orthopedic spine surgeon Andrew White, MD, in Milton with medical assistant Brittany Dillon (left) and administrative assistant Valerie Martinez (right)
“Milton provided great services, had an excellent group of physicians, and was a convenient place for patients, but the depth and breadth of services here were really ripe for additional subspecialty care,” he says. “I am able to bring my specialized background, and it is very gratifying for me to be able to take care of patients here from soup to nuts.
“Patients really like this hospital, trust the doctors, and enjoy the personalized care and the relationships they build with their providers.”
Patient Steve Davis, who underwent spine surgery at BID-Milton, was initially afraid to have his operation but was later so pleased with the outcome that he recommended Dr. White to his nephew.
“My only regret is not having the surgery years ago,” he says. “The staff was wonderful, from Dr. White to the nurses. I was able to ask questions, and I am very happy with the outcome.”
Dr. White credits the success of the BID-Milton Spine Program to the multidisciplinary approach to care the team has adopted.
“Taking care of spine problems is always multidisciplinary,” he explains. “We have specialists in neurology and pain management. BID-Milton has always been supportive of subspecialty surgeons coming here and delivering high levels of care, and one of the ways we do that is by establishing the Surgical Physician Assistants Program. We’ve hired and trained some really talented PAs who are working in the hospital 24/7 helping to take care of surgical patients.”
PAs also respond to the clinical needs of patients while surgeons are in the OR or seeing patients in their offices.
“We also have a very strong hospitalist program where we have a team of hospitalsts in the building who are also part of the faculty of BIDMC so the evidence-based care is the same care that is delivered at the medical center,” Dr. Yeats says.
“When you look at supporting programs, whether spine surgery or general surgery, the growth in that surgery and the confidence of the surgeons and of the patients in the care they receive is supported by many of the hospital-based programs.”
Pain Management is another program that can and should be accessible in a community, Dr. Yeats says.
“These are patients who are often mobility challenged and overwhelmed with a chronic condition, and they shouldn’t be worrying about the idea of having to drive downtown and navigate parking and traffic congestion. We have been fortunate to have created a collaborative program with Christopher Gilligan, MD, who is the Chief of Pain Medicine at BIDMC. He spends time here at the Center for Specialty Care and works with other supporting specialties. It is a great program for us to bring to the community, and we know it is needed,” says Dr. Yeats.
“It is a huge convenience for patients. It is a big deal that we are able to do it close to home because we are treating patients on a fairly regular basis. It is not just a question of a one-time visit,” explains Dr. Gilligan, who says that consults and most procedures are done in Milton. Stephen Bennett, a patient of Dr. Gilligan, admits that having access to a BIDMC physician was very comforting.
“It was a great experience, and I love the fact a doctor from downtown came out and saw me,” he says. “They were very caring and accommodating, and never in a rush. They were professional and compassionate, and I love that it was so close to home.”
Like all of the specialty practices, the pain management service relies on a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients, encompassing traditional and complementary therapies.
“Patients are provided with every option for care,” says BIDMC and BID-Milton pain specialist Paragi Rana, MD. “These range from medication management, interventional therapies including trigger point injections, ultrasound-guided intervention, and implants to more homeopathic methods, such as massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care. We also have a wonderful psychologist who provides patients with cognitive behavioral therapies and biofeedback.”
With the addition of a new procedure suite, patients can have injections and other treatments conveniently performed next to the Center for Specialty Care.
“There is a lot of flexibility in the type and speed of care we are able to provide because it is always available to us,” Dr. Rana says. “It is relatively rare that we send patients to Boston.”
Both Dr. Gilligan and Dr. Rana work closely with Dr. White and Efstathios “Steve” Papavassiliou, MD, a neurospine surgeon who sees patients at the BID-Milton Spine Program.
“We have been working closely together collaborating throughout the years. We communicate with each other and easily go back and forth and share ideas quite effortlessly,” Dr. Gilligan says.
The expansion of surgical services, upgrading of surgical equipment, measurement of operating room efficiency and ensuring the quality of patient care are all key areas that Chief of Surgery Edward Reardon, MD, oversees.
BID-Milton Chief of Surgery Edward Reardon, MD, has overseen an increase in surgical volume.
“We have been able to expand our abilities to bring clinical care from the medical center to Milton, and the specialists are able to very effectively see patients at the Center for Specialty Care and do the procedures that are appropriate for Milton right here,” he says. “BID-Milton has become very effective with orthopedic, urologic, bariatric, gynecological, colorectal, hand and spine surgery.”
Dr. Reardon envisions more operating space in years to come in order to accommodate the increase in surgical volume.
“We are running at a high usage because of our name recognition in the community and because being so clinically strong has significantly changed people’s perceptions over the past four years since the affiliation. People see it as a bonus if they don’t have to go into downtown for world-class care.“
For more information about the Center for Specialty Care at BID-Milton, or to refer a patient, please call 617-313-1445 or visit www.bidmilton.org.