Leadership at Geisinger recently discussed a number of initiatives currently underway to deal with issues impacting the health system and the people it serves with community leaders. Among the issues are dealing with opioid abuse, better access to health care, and filling skilled positions at the system’s various facilities. Geisinger’s Chief Medical Officer, Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D. (in photo at left), led the discussion on behalf of Dr. David Feinberg.
Driving care initiatives is the recently updated Community Health Needs Assessment. Timely access to care, behavioral health issues, including substance abuse, and disease prevention were priority issues. Work teams have been formed and focus groups are being held to develop strategies.
With 140,000 no shows for appointments annually, Geisinger is piloting a transportation program. The Chamber regularly hears from area human service agencies about the challenges of transportation among the low to moderate income population. While studies have shown that transportation does not improve medical visits, Geisinger is working with Rabbit Transit and other providers to provide transportation within a radius of the hospital.
Among the initiatives to help deal with opioid abuse, Geisinger has improved its prescription reporting system. In an 18 month period, the number of opioids prescribed was reduced by 50%. The system’s addition medicine department is also increasing its efforts in the area of treatment.
The Fresh Food Farmacy being piloted at the Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital is yielding significant positive results for patients with diabetes. With 300 people in the program, providing healthy food options with guidance is proving more effective than traditional prescription medicine. The successful program is being expanded to other Geisinger facilities.
With the growth of the Geisinger system, so has the need for skilled positions. Bloomsburg University’s popular nursing program creates a valuable partnership for Geisinger, though clinical space remains a bottleneck. Initiatives to retain employees are showing success, though recruiting is a challenge. There was discussion among the group about the need for additional housing stock, and integrating new hires and their families into our communities. The Chamber has reached out to Geisinger representatives and other major employers to assist with these issues. Communities that are safe, vibrant, and welcoming are critical to the success and growth of area employers, as well as the health of its citizens.