Adventist HealthCare is Helping Create a Healthier Community. Learn About Four Paths to Wellness

Over the last few years, reform to the U.S. health care system has brought about many dramatic changes to hospitals and the care they deliver. Instead of just providing high quality care to the sick within a hospital, today’s health care professionals are focusing more on preventing disease and maintaining health among the entire population, while reducing costs. For Gaithersburg-based Adventist HealthCare, Montgomery County’s first and largest provider of health care services, this change fits well into a focus on community wellness, which began 107 years ago.

Adventist HealthCare hosts thousands of community screening and education events each year and is integrating physicians and the larger health care system through modern technology. Here’s more on how Adventist HealthCare’s services are already addressing the changes in health care with a focus on creating a healthier community.

Convenient, Quality Urgent Care

As the health care system focuses on reducing costs, urgent care centers have grown in popularity. They offer an affordable alternative to emergency room visits for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

“We all find ourselves in pressing situations when we need care at a specific time and in a specific location. However, these are often situations that don’t require the expertise and resources of a hospital emergency room,” says Terry Forde, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. “Urgent care centers offer that alternative and ultimately are more cost-effective for both the consumer and the provider.”

Later this year, Adventist HealthCare will open urgent care centers in partnership with Florida-based Centra Care, which operates 24 centers in central Florida. Centra Care, Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care centers will open in Germantown and Rockville by the end of 2014 and in Laurel in early 2015. Additional locations are planned for the future.

Each Centra Care location will feature walk-in appointments as well as online reservations. The facilities also will feature on-site lab work, pharmacy, X-rays, EKGs, physicals and immunizations.

Promoting Health at Work

Most people spend 40 hours per week—or a third of each weekday—at work. By improving health for employees while they are at work, businesses can save money and boost the population’s overall good health. To support this effort locally, Adventist HealthCare’s workplace wellness affiliate, LifeWork Strategies, has partnered with more than 300 businesses to provide education and wellness programs to employees.

Reducing the rates of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, can help people live healthier and ultimately reduce overall health care costs for businesses.

“A healthier workforce lowers costs on health insurance premiums and lowers absenteeism and increases productivity,” says Mindy Pierce, director of LifeWork Strategies. LifeWork Strategies is a member of Adventist HealthCare and delivers integrated wellness and behavioral health programs to a wide range of businesses.

Promoting Community Wellness

Adventist HealthCare’s rich history in community wellness is the perfect match to today’s changing health care system. In fact, Adventist HealthCare’s Center for Health Equity and Wellness works aggressively to raise awareness of community health needs and local disparities, improve access to culturally appropriate care and provide community wellness outreach and education.

“Our mission is focused on supporting Adventist HealthCare in implementing health equity and community wellness approaches that improve population health,” says Marcos Pesquera, executive director of the center. “By partnering with other organizations that share our mission, we are able to address social issues that impact health, extend the reach of quality health care services to our most vulnerable communities and provide the necessary resources to keep them healthy and well.”

The center’s array of health and wellness programs, and free community events and screenings, help expand access to valuable health care services reaching more than 60,000 residents each year.

Coordinating Care

An accountable care organization (ACO) is a group of doctors and other health care providers who work together to coordinate integrated care for a population of people. The Mid-Atlantic Primary Care ACO LLC, managed by Adventist HealthCare, launched in January as one of the largest ACOs in the region. The physician-led partnership includes more than 1,000 health care providers who care for more than 14,000 Medicare patients.

“ACOs are at the center of care delivery, because they create more efficient and coordinated care, improving the total quality of care and lowering health care costs,” says Patrick Garrett, MD, senior vice president of physician integration, innovation and population-based care, and president of Adventist Medical Group.

Dr. Garrett is the chief administrator of the Mid-Atlantic ACO, whose participating providers are Adventist Medical Group, MedPeds LLC, Comprehensive Women’s Health, Doctors First, Wayne Meyer, MD, and George Washington Medical Faculty Associates Inc.

“Patients whose providers have chosen to participate with the Mid-Atlantic ACO benefit from improved care coordination, because up-to-date health information is shared across the continuum,” Dr. Garrett says. “This communication among health care service providers supports the physician in making sure patients receive high-quality care.”