"I’m just beaming with pride,” said Sandra Coletta, president and CEO of Kent Hospital, last Tuesday. In a lab room down the hall from the emergency entrance, Coletta announced the new clinical affiliation between Kent Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital of Boston.
The idea for the partnership was born more than two years ago, when Coletta first met with Dale Adler, the executive vice chair of the Department of Medicine at Brigham & Women’s.
Adler recalled at Tuesday’s gathering that Coletta talked to him about making Kent the best health care provider it could be and not about the politics or money involved in a potential partnership. It was her approach that made Brigham & Women’s interested in coming to Warwick, he said.
The affiliation will bring what Coletta called a “major expansion of cardiac care in our state.” Services provided through the partnership will include everything from testing, evaluation and imaging, to arrhythmia services and ablation.
“It is the responsibility of Kent to provide the best possible care to those in our community,” she said.
The new team of cardiac care specialists includes five doctors trained at Brigham & Women’s that will now join the staff at Kent. Dr. Chester Hedgepeth will serve as the executive chief of cardiology at Kent Hospital. He will be joined at Kent by Dr. Heather Hurlburt, the director of non-invasive imaging; Dr. Bruce A. Koplan, the director of the cardiac arrhythmia service; Dr. John Murphy, an invasive cardiologist; and Dr. Alan Rosen, a non-invasive cardiologist.
“They’re not just going to change cardiac care here at Kent but … for our state,” said Coletta. “It takes Kent to an entirely new level.”
Taking the hospital to a new level is a big goal for Dennis Keefe, president and CEO of Care New England, of which Kent is a member. Keefe said last week that in 2011 alone, roughly 6,700 people left Rhode Island to get in-patient care from hospitals elsewhere. Of those 6,700, roughly 1,000 left the state for in-patient cardiac care specifically. Keefe said if you add the number of residents leaving for outpatient care, the number grows considerably.
Keefe said the services now being offered at Kent would help retain patients in Rhode Island.
“People shouldn’t have to wonder, ‘Gee, do I stay local?’” echoed Dr. Allen Smith, the Physicians’ Organization president at Brigham & Women's.
Smith said Kent and Brigham are a great fit because they have a shared vision: quality care, something that’s even more important now in the wake of health care reforms.
“We know health care is under tremendous pressure,” he said. He hopes that the health care industry will take a page out of other industries’ books and remember, “Get it right the first time and not be rewarded for mistakes, but be rewarded for excellence.”
Dr. Hedgepeth, the executive chief of the new cardiology program at Kent, said his team would offer outpatient consultation, counseling on heart transplantation, cardiac catheterization, heart failure management and pacemakers, among other services.
Coletta said the new doctors have been a welcome and embraced addition to the hospital, and the nursing staff has been thrilled to work with the new Brigham & Women’s specialists.
“It’s the triple win,” said Adler. “The community wins, the hospital wins, and we win in showing … this is how you deliver health care.”