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Building a team to improve the patient’s experience

When people are sick they do not want to be in a room with someone else who is sick. That was a core understanding Frank Korich had in spearheading a $56 million expansion and renovation project at Geneva General Hospital in Ontario County.

As senior vice president of operations of Finger Lakes Health, Korich oversaw several aspects of the project, including a new emergency department, surgical services department and intensive care unit. One of the priority areas for him was the conversion to 100 percent private patient rooms.

“Our main focus was to improve patient safety and experience,” Korich explained. “Most falls happen when a patient is getting out of bed to go to the bathroom. We designed the rooms to minimize the space between the bed and the bathroom. We put in non-slip floors, accommodations for family stayovers, and we kept in mind infection prevention.”

Geneva General is a 132-bed acute care facility founded in 1898. It serves residents in four counties and also operates as an acute rehabilitation center.

The six-month expansion and renovation project was extremely labor- and thought-intensive.

“Nobody does anything like this alone. We wanted feedback before we invested the money to build it,” Korich said.

He garnered input from his team and put their thoughts on paper first. Nearly every detail was considered, from stability of flooring to functionality of space.

“We called in stakeholders from the main areas we focused on—nurses, surgeons, anesthesia,” Korich explained. “Then we rented a warehouse and constructed full scale mockups according to how the designs were drawn on paper. We built a model and asked for feedback. Should we change the orientation of the bed? Is the desk placement right? What about the paint color?”

The extra steps to get feedback were worth the time and effort, Korich said. The result is a project that was completed on time, under budget and to the specifications of the actual users.

Those who worked with him were impressed, including his boss.

“When I think about him and his success, what makes him special is his team building and his commitment to patient safety,” said Jose Acevedo, president and CEO of Finger Lakes Health.

Acevedo describes Korich as being as much a team player as he is a team leader. He has the vision and drive, but is also on the ground working to bring the idea to fruition.

He also praises Korich for his decisive action in moving to the private patient room model.

“There has been an evolution of design. It shows the progression of medicine,” Acevedo explained. “Think back 20 years ago when rooms were for four people, then two people. A patient comes in with chest pains and ends up in a room next to someone with pneumonia. Many hospitals still today are double-bedded in our area. That needs to change.”

In addition to the Geneva General project, Korich oversees Finger Lakes Health’s acute and long-term care, as well as inpatient and outpatient services. He has moved up the ranks of the organization, serving as site administrator and then vice president. 

Among his accomplishments are the construction of the Joint Center of the Finger Lakes, development of women’s diagnostic services at Geneva General and the attainment of $1.5 million in grants for Geneva General and Soldiers & Sailors Hospital in Penn Yan.

The milestones are many, as are the projects Korich must manage at any given time. Projects mean progress, he says, and he is happy to see them underway. Up next is a facelift on the north building of the living center—an 80-bed nursing home that needs to be modernized.

Also ahead are plans for building a physician network.

“Chronic illnesses cannot be managed in urgent care centers. Continuity of care is a must following discharge from the hospital,” Korich explained. “We need family medicine and also specialists in our area. Convenient points of access are especially important for the elderly.”

Even though he spent a lot of time and energy to expand and renovate Geneva General, Korich believes the future includes finding ways to minimize the need for that work altogether.

“We need to start focusing on keeping people out of hospitals,” he says. “We do that by making sure they have good primary care physicians.”

3/18/2016 (c) 2016 Health Care Achievement Awards Special Section. Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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