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UC hospitals ease into Saint Thomas partnership deal

Liz Engel Clark
Monday, Jun 4, 2012

SPARTA – A new logo, a new name and a renewed vow to better serve patients. Just a few weeks ago, Saint Thomas Health and Capella Healthcare celebrated the first day of their new partnership, a celebration that included the unveiling a host of new beginnings for four Upper Cumberland hospitals.

Now the real work begins.

In White County, where a long-time community hospital welcomed a name change – it’s now Highlands Medical Center - more than $1 million in renovations are planned. There are plans to improve the geriatric psychiatry unit, the medical surgical floors, and there’ll be an expansion and renovation to the hospital’s main entrance. The dining room will also receive a facelift as well.

No exact start date for the projects was given, but CEO Bill Little said they’re hoping to have everything completed by next summer.

“Highlands Medical Center in Sparta is putting the finishing touches on their $1 million renovation plan and (are) getting rave reviews from patients and guests about the architectural renderings now on display,” said Beth Wright, spokeswoman for Capella Healthcare.

Just down the highway, River Park Hospital in McMinnville has already invested more than $200,000 in renovations to both the exterior and interior of the facility. During the past few weeks, they’ve landscaped; finished updating patient rooms, since the hospital is preparing to go to all private rooms in the near future; and changed flooring from carpet to tile in all patient care areas, part of an infection control initiative, Wright said.

Already an accredited chest pain center, River Park Hospital is also preparing to obtain advanced certification through the Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers.

“This means every patient at RPH presenting symptoms of stroke will be treated according to a set of standard procedures,” Wright said. “Under the direction of a stroke committee and with assistance from Saint Thomas Health, staff are being trained according to stroke center guidelines, and stroke center policies are being put into place. The intent is to secure the certification within the next one to two years.”

River Park Hospital is also in discussions with Saint Thomas Health about developing a program for local neurology support, utilizing Saint Thomas specialists and service lines, via telemedicine and other avenues, Wright said.

And, of course, Highlands Medical Center and River Park Hospital, along with sister facilities DeKalb County Hospital in Smithville and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury, are preparing to install new exterior and interior signage, which will featuring a new theme and logo, a combination of Capella’s signature star and Saint Thomas’ cross.

Capella, which has operated the four UC facilities, and Saint Thomas first announced their joint venture in December and officially inked the deal in early May. Capella is the managing member and the majority partner in the new venture, and under the agreement, Capella will be the exclusive development partner for Saint Thomas Health across Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.

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