When the Jared Neuroscience Center opened this summer, it ushered in a new era of unified neuroscience care.
The center and the neuroscience service line bring together two large, award-winning services: Ferrell-Duncan Clinic Neurology and Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute. These two groups have joined with Neuroradiology, rehab specialists and psychology services to create our region’s only fully integrated neuroscience service line.
Now, the top three floors of the new West Tower offer a place where providers work side by side and patients have the best access to experts in a variety of fields.
“Patients come to us for interdisciplinary care,” says Dr. George Wong, neurologist and co-director of the Jared Neuroscience Center. “By coming together, we will allow patients the ease of moving from one specialty to another as we consult each other. We’ve all been trained uniquely, but what brings us together is the patient. That’s our focus: how our talents and disciplines come together for comprehensive patient care.”
The neuroscience service line sees a wide variety of patients, many of whom have conditions that require care from neurology, neurosurgery and additional disciplines. Having those services under one roof is a powerful change.
In the past, outpatient clinics were off-site, which made it challenging for physicians and nurses to travel back and forth and check on patients. Now, you can ask any provider and they’re quick to point out the advantages of working close to their partners and their patients.
“From the surgeon’s perspective, your life is in the hospital,” says Dr. Chad Morgan, neurosurgeon and co-director of the center. Clinic work is a big part of the job, but there are huge advantages to having an outpatient clinic in the hospital facility.
Dr. Morgan recalls a patient who was being treated for a brain tumor who came into the clinic with an issue. He was in the operating room all day, but since the clinic is now located in the hospital, he could work her in.
“I was able to come up between cases and see her in the clinic. We admitted her to the inpatient floor, just one flight up, and we operated the next day,” Dr. Morgan says. “Even the first day, I was in the OR, but my nurse could go up and check on her and make sure she was feeling better.”
Dr. Wong says the ability to check on patients by simply taking an elevator ride is a welcome change from the years of traveling from a clinic to the main hospital campus. But that convenience pales in comparison to the easy access to other providers.
“The ability to walk down the hall, turn a corner and talk to someone who can aid you is so valuable,” he says. “That proximity is important – it’s so much better than dealing with the barrier of a phone call, voice mail, or messages.”
The Jared Neuroscience Center’s design also encourages interdisciplinary care, with specialized collaboration rooms where physicians and providers can gather to consult, discuss patient cases and examine X-rays.
“Our care is so much less fragmented than when there was care in the hospital and care in an ambulatory center,” says Max Buetow, the center’s administrative director. “Now, it’s a more seamless situation.”
In addition to centralizing neurology and neurosurgery, the center allows easy access to areas like neuropsychology and physiatry, as well as specialized clinics for Parkinson’s and ALS. Buetow says subspecialties, such as neuro-oncology, are also in the works through partnerships with the University of Missouri School of Medicine.
A benefit to inpatients
The proximity of the specialty clinics on the seventh and ninth floors is also improving the care delivered on the inpatient eighth floor. When the team on the neurosciences inpatient floor needs a second opinion, it makes a real difference having providers only one floor away.
“It’s very nice to be able to ask a nurse, ‘Can you come and look at this with me?’” says Shannon Rantz, nurse manager on the eighth floor. “It’s a great convenience for patients and it makes us more flexible.”
Rantz says sometimes patients are eligible for an early dismissal when they’re doing well and the discharge process goes much faster in the centralized neuroscience center. A provider can write prescriptions and sign orders quickly, whereas in the past, staff members on the floor had to wait for the next time the provider was rounding in the unit.
“Now, with their offices nearby, it’s easy to have last-minute details taken care of,” Rantz says. “Doctors can handle an issue for us and be back in the clinic without skipping a beat.
“When families are visiting their loved ones, physicians can take a break in the clinic and drop in to see them,” she says. “The families feel like the physicians are more readily available and there’s better communication. It helps with a lot of family questions.”
Leaders say patients are appreciating the changes. The centralized location is convenient, and the teamwork it fosters pays off in improved communication and well-coordinated care.
“This is a nice building and facility, but our staff has done such a nice job communicating directly with our patients,” Buetow says. “And we have the best group of volunteers here in the West Tower. Our patients have access to those people and it makes a great difference.”
Flying the ‘Jared flag’
As the Jared Neuroscience Center transforms care, it’s also changing the way the community sees CoxHealth.
“Our service line is made up of the same award-winning teams, but the commonality of branding is a big deal,” Buetow says. Soon after the center opened, Buetow met a woman in the lobby who remarked that she didn’t realize we had such comprehensive neuroscience care. “She told me, ‘I’ve always had my care at Washington University, but when I found out that CoxHealth had this new center, I moved all my care to CoxHealth.’”
The center has done wonders to unify and energize the service line teams, Buetow says.
“People are so proud to walk their family members through this center,” he says. “We have several entities working together here, but being on the Cox South campus reinforces that we’re a part of CoxHealth. And we’re proud to fly the Jared flag – the name makes us feel like part of something bigger and broader in the Springfield community.”
Dr. Morgan agrees. “People feel more connected. CoxHealth is a big part of the community and this center helps us live up to our reputation. We had the specialists and talent, but it’s a lot easier when you have the bricks and mortar that reflect that.
“This concept has been in the making for a decade and we’ve brought all the parties together under one name, one roof, with one mission statement. We’re excited it’s here and the community will see a big change in the way we deliver neuroscience care.”
New inpatient space enhances teamwork
Since the center opened, the eighth floor has been busy with a full load of patients and staff members have been adjusting to the new, larger space.
“We changed the way we assigned patients, we changed the way we give medications and we changed the way we get their supplies out to patients,” says nurse manager Shannon Rantz.
New scanners are in place for scanning medications and supplies are now located in Omnicell cabinets, which makes record keeping and charging for supplies more efficient.
At the front desk, a large digital screen features patient IDs and room numbers, so arriving providers, transporters and staff can quickly locate their patient.
Rantz says the decentralized nursing pods allow staff members to spend more time in patient rooms. The larger space has also fostered teamwork as nursing and nursing assistant staff members get to know one another and work closely together.
And patients are loving the space.
“When you round, you see how much patients love the rooms, they love the ability to look out the windows. That’s a major incentive to getting them up and moving – they want to get up and see everything out the window,” Rantz says.