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CEO Column

Ralph mullerAs we begin the new fiscal year -- and as I do each year -- I want to provide an overview of some of our outstanding system-wide accomplishments over the past twelve months. Seeing where we’ve been is always a wise step before moving forward. But let me first thank all of you for your contributions to what we achieved in FY 2013. By any measure we have much to be proud of. Here is some of what we did together.

Most importantly, we maintained the Penn high standard in patient care, education, and research in spite of the persistent effects of the global fiscal crisis and cutbacks in funding arising from federal sequestration. These financial pressures certainly presented challenges, but they also served as opportunities to examine how we could lower expenses while faithfully meeting our missions. Many of you took steps to both save and use resources more prudently, and for that I am truly grateful. The bottom line: fiscal pressures or not, we continued to differentiate ourselves with sophisticated, hope-giving programs other health systems and hospitals simply can’t replicate.

And more fresh thinking is on the way! Over 1,000 faculty and staff members of Penn Medicine submitted ideas to the 2013 Your Big Idea Challenge for improving operating efficiencies and lowering costs -- while upholding quality. Results from ratings you and your colleagues provided for the submissions, along with the evaluation of an official review team, will determine which ideas move forward. Please stay tuned!

On the capital front, enormously important projects forged ahead. The South Pavilion expansion is adding four additional floors to the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Upon completion in early 2014, the 200,000 square feet of additional space will enable most of HUP’s remaining outpatient services to re-locate to the Perelman Center. By concentrating outpatient programs in one facility, the project will result in newly freed-up space to allow movement of staff from Penn Tower, which can then be vacated.

To ensure our capacity to meet the evolving needs of educating world-class physicians and researchers, work continues on the Henry A. Jordan Medical Education Center, set to open in 2014. Sitting atop the South Pavilion expansion, the three-floor, 115,000 square foot facility will follow the innovative design of renewing education facilities for the students of the Perelman School of Medicine and providing offices for clinical faculty and clinical research nurse coordinators.  Its physical connection to the Smilow Center for Translational Research will result in one of the first medical-education facilities in the nation to be fully integrated into an active clinical and research facility. This creative fusion of form and function will provide unparalleled opportunities for both structured and informal collaboration between faculty members and students.

I’m happy to report that construction of Pennsylvania Hospital’s new outpatient facility, Penn Medicine Washington Square, at 8th and Walnuts Streets, is complete and finalization of the interior is well underway -- keeping us on the path for our projected September official opening. Physician practices will start moving into the new facility at the end of August. This new 12-story facility will serve as the primary location of outpatient care for PAH in an efficient, modern, eco-friendly space. By concentrating disparate outpatient services in a common facility, the project frees up space needed for new private patient rooms, a necessary step for remaining competitive among health-care providers in the region.

Also at Pennsy, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine was relocated to the Cathcart Building, resulting in a much larger, bright, modern, state-of-the-art space where lab staff can work more efficiently. This move was crucial to open space for the private room initiative. And the historic Pine Building restoration continues to make excellent progress. Work and fundraising on the roof replacement project continued, thanks to generous donations from our supporters.

Ground was officially broken on the new Advanced Care Hospital Pavilion at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. With the completion of the project in early 2015, the Level 1Trauma Center at Penn Medicine will shift from its current base of operations at HUP to Presby. The new Pavilion and renovations will feature numerous upgrades and enhanced capacity for emergency, surgical, trauma, and critical care. The recent completion of work on PPMC’s loading dock will pave the way for the foundation site excavation for the Pavilion and the ED expansion.

Steel construction is also underway on a new 11-story tower at the Science Center’s Campus in West Philadelphia, which will house the new Penn Center for Specialty Care. In addition to revitalizing the 38th Street area, the project will add more than 150,000 square feet of outpatient and surgical-care space to Presby’s footprint, including the multidisciplinary Penn Musculoskeletal Institute.

Program-wise, there were many noteworthy achievements; I apologize for only having space to list a few.

HUP has been recognized for disease-specific care comprehensive stroke center certification by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. It is the first center in Philadelphia and among a select few hospitals in the United States to be named as part of this elite group of providers focused on complex stroke care. And Penn Presbyterian and Pennsylvania Hospital each received primary stroke center certification from The Joint Commission for improving outcomes for stroke patients. All three Penn Medicine acute care hospitals are now certified to optimally treat stroke patients, making us the first Philadelphia health system to receive certification for stroke care at all of our hospitals.

For the second consecutive year, Penn Presbyterian was ranked among the nation's top 100 hospitals by Truven Health Analytics -- as well as one of the US’s 50 top cardiovascular hospitals. Also for the second year in a row, the Pennsylvania Hospital Skilled Care Center was honored with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s award for excellence in health care compliance -- the only site in Philadelphia and one of only two, out of 713 nursing homes in the state, to receive this recognition.

Finally, HUP’s transplant team marked its 25th anniversary by completing their 1,000th lifesaving heart transplant. The team performs more adult heart transplants annually than all other Philadelphia-area hospitals combined and is the third largest program in the nation.

Congratulations to everyone at Presby, Pennsy, and HUP for these truly outstanding achievements!

As fiscal year 2014 begins, I'm excited about continuing to work with all of you on the things that we do best and matter the most: serving our patients well; opening new paths to biomedical knowledge and training, and providing a supportive, enriching work environment for all members of our team. If we do that, we will have fulfilled our mandate.

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