- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

PEKIN, Ill. (AP) - Pekin Hospital is the only hospital in the area that doesn’t have a tie to a corporate giant, so hospital officials have the final say in the hospital’s direction in the years to come.

Dr. Gordon Cross began his two-year stint as president of the Pekin Hospital medical staff on June 1. He has been a radiologist at Pekin Hospital for 10 years. Cross said the radiologist group covers UnityPoint Health Methodist, Pekin Hospital, Proctor Hospital and Galesburg Cottage Hospital. Cross serves on the hospital board and serves as an intermediary between the board and medical staff. Cross said he chose Pekin Hospital because of the way it cares for local residents.

Cross said the hospital has advanced over the past five years in many areas, but the board needed some realizations.

“I think the board of trustees, especially with the recent (addition of) CEO Bob Haley, realized that we can’t do everything,” he said. “We aren’t going to be doing organ transplants. We aren’t going to be doing advanced complicated surgeries, but what we do want to do here, we want to do well.”

“And I don’t mean as good, I mean as good or better than other hospitals in the area. And I think knowing that we are the only independent hospital in the area at this point - not under the guise of a bigger umbrella. It gives us the flexibility, and with the aggressiveness of the board of trustees here, to press those kinds of things. Five years ago I didn’t have an (ear, nose and throat surgeon). I have an ENT surgeon on staff now. Five years ago we didn’t have a gastroenterologist. Anyone who needed a screening colonoscopy would have to go elsewhere to get that. Now you can get it right here at the hospital.”



The hospital also recently introduced a pain management clinic manned by a new physician. That means approximately 100 more people are receiving pain management each month that previously either did not get treatment or went to Peoria. The hospital also recently hired a new general surgeon who will start in August. Cross said the hospital also had a “poorly defined orthopedic service,” but a deal with Midwest Orthopedic has increased the number of orthopedics substantially.

“When most hospitals our size were panicking and looking at, ‘we need to affiliate or die,’ we said we think we are a strong hospital,” said Cross. “We have a community support that is unbelievable compared to the other hospitals that I work at, and a community that wants their own hospital. I think we decided that’s what we want as physicians and that’s what we want as a board.”

As far as technology, “We are always looking to keep caught up with the other hospitals,” Cross said. “I think here we have the advantage. We see the need and we can fill the need specifically. In mammography we’re looking to go with tomosynthesis, which is I think an important step for this hospital. It is basically 3-D mammography. Tomosynthesis takes the breast and instead of doing one picture like a flat piece of paper we get layers like we do with a CT scan. It allows you to page through the breast, which has been shown nationally in tests that you have fewer calls backs, which all women hate. It means decreased call backs and decreased radiation exposure.”

Cross said he hopes to have the equipment for tomosynthesis by the end of summer. A hospital staff member is currently visiting other hospitals that have the technology to determine which system is best. The machine will cost approximately $460,000.

“The board is very interested in saying that we want to be able to tell our women that, ‘You’re going to get the same mammogram that you’re going to get anywhere in the country,’” said Cross. “And number two, … people think that when they are here they aren’t getting the care they could get somewhere else.”

“I practice at somewhere else. I’ve had times when I’ll suggest a biopsy and then be at Methodist and the patient shows up there for the biopsy. Our pathology people serve all of the hospitals in the area. I think the staff that you’re getting here, physician-wise, is equal to any, the bonus being that most of the staff here cares a lot more about Pekin than the people at the other hospitals may care about their specific sites. That’s why I picked (Pekin) out of the four hospitals to spend my time.”

Cross said the hospital will have a new state of the art MRI in the next three years. The board has said the machine is needed, though decisions have to be made on where it will be located. The machines are massive. The current MRI is located off campus. The board wants it located on campus, which will require major changes.

“At the board level we’re looking at all of those options,” said Cross. “Knowing that, I have been able to be more patient as a radiologist because obviously I want it now.

“Also, from being on the board, I have the opportunity to look at it not only from the side as a radiologist and the doctors, I have the opportunity to look at it from a business standpoint because I want the best one that will be here for 10 years. So my patience has changed by having the knowledge of being on the board, which is new for me. I’ve never been on a board of trustees before and looking at both sides of a thing like this has been really educational for me, and at the same time we’re going to get where we need to go.”

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Source: Pekin Daily Times, https://bit.ly/1ekns5Q .

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Information from: Pekin Daily Times, https://www.pekintimes.com

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