SUN CITY CENTER – Less than a year after opening its family care center in Sun City Center, Tampa General Hospital is revising its services to better meet its patients’ needs while reducing costs.
The revisions come at the request of the hospital’s first community patient advisory group, formed shortly after TGH opened its General Medical Group family care center at 1647 Sun City Center Plaza last October.
The Sun City Center clinic is among seven centers TGH has opened in Hillsborough County since 2010 in an effort to make preventative services more accessible to patients.
Jana Gardner, vice president of ambulatory services at TGH, said the Sun City Center advisory group has been an integral part of that effort.
“Sun City Center was the ideal place to start an advisory group because senior citizen patients there have the time and motivation to get involved,” Gardner said. “They are very engaged in issues related to senior health and well-being, and we take the group’s recommendations to heart. The advisory group represents the voice of the patient.”
The group meets quarterly to discuss services it would like TGH to add to the center’s offerings, review the center’s progress and ensure the needs of senior citizens in the community are being met, Gardner said.
“It’s been very well received and we’ve gotten a lot of helpful suggestions.”
Among them, the advisory group recommended that TGH assign a second doctor to the center to assist Dr. Jeffrey Lester, the internist who opened the center and works there 9.5 hours a day, five days a week.
In response, TGH recently added Dr. Babette Pachence to the center’s staff, Gardner said.
TGH also complied with the advisory group’s request to add a pharmacist and social worker in Sun City Center.
The formation of the advisory group also paves the way for the Sun City Center office to receive Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
The NCQA is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the nation’s health-care system. To receive the Patient-Centered Medical Home designation from the group, primary care clinics must improve communications with patients by forming an advisory group and meet certain standards of care, such as providing an electronic health record system to alert patients when they are due for immunizations, mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventative procedures.
In addition, NCQA-certified centers must prove they have enhanced access to care, like offering same-day appointments with the patient’s personal physician.
“We are also required to do a lot of monitoring when patients are discharged from the hospital and make sure they do all the required follow-ups,” Gardner said. “This helps to keep re-admission rates down.”
The ultimate goal of the NCQA, she said, is to increase the quality of patient care while reducing costs.
“It’s a long process but we hope to receive certification next year,” Gardner said.
For more information, contact the TGH family care center in Sun City Center at (813) 844-4700.
D’Ann Lawrence White is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]