LIMA — Mercy Health-St. Rita’s is looking to its past for inspiration.
The hospital, founded in 1918 amid the nation’s deadliest influenza outbreak, has grown considerably since its early days. Even though the medical center now claims a sprawling campus in downtown Lima and is a part of the Bon Secours Mercy Health network, the core mission from those early days of fighting influenza lingers on in the minds of the medical center’s leadership.
Ronda Lehman, president of Mercy Health’s Lima network, expects the healthcare world will expand its role beyond traditional patient care and preventative education, exploring community partnerships to address the underlying causes of health problems such as housing and food insecurity.
Or in Lehman’s words: Get back to St. Rita’s original roots with 21st century care.
“When patients aren’t healthy, it’s our imperative to ask all the whys and get to those original sources of why they’re not able to maintain good health,” Lehman said. “You have to decide between paying your electric bill or heat and getting that medication, heat will win every day.”
Mercy Health-St. Rita’s has expanded its footprint beyond Lima, opening clinics in surrounding communities and organizing outreach teams to fill the region’s healthcare gaps.
The hospital – which is no longer just a hospital – had undergone tremendous change in its 102-year history.
Advancements in technology made it easier to detect disease early. Telemedicine holds promise to connect patients with top-tier specialists without having to travel. Patients are now treated as customers, with a greater emphasis on wellness and preventative care so patients avoid costly ER visits.
Mercy Health is now building a graduate medical education center to train resident physicians, a project conceived in part to stave off a future physician shortage.
“Your primary care provider used to be where you went when you had a sore throat or the flu or were not feeling well,” said Cory Werts, chief nursing officer for Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center. “Now it should be a place where you also go when you are well, to continue your wellness and get even better. We’ve put processes in place where those providers are asking about wellness and not just the current episode.”
But despite these changes, Lehman said the emphasis is still on provided healthcare locally.
“Care is always provided locally,” she said. “It always will be.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.