Forum gives pulse of healthcare giant

McLaren Northern Michigan, formerly known as Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, gave a status report and answered citizen questions during a community forum on Friday April 26 at Flapjack Family Restaurant of Charlevoix

McLaren Forum

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Boyne City Resident Heather Nalbock, an employee of McLaren Northern Michigan, stands with outgoing President & CEO Reezie DeVet

McLaren Northern Michigan, formerly known as Northern Michigan Regional Hospital, gave a status report and answered citizen questions during a community forum on Friday April 26 at Flapjack Family Restaurant of Charlevoix.


Outgoing President and CEO Reezie DeVet gave the presentation to various community leaders and citizens.
“We’ve had a long-standing history of attracting highly-skilled physicians,” DeVet said. “We’ve enjoyed a reputation as the ‘Little
Mayo’ (Clinic) of the north; and, we’ve brought many firsts to Northern Michigan such as open-heart surgery, bedside bar coding and
EMR implementation.” McLaren has 202 beds and more than 10,000 discharges annually.

As the region’s largest employer, McLaren Northern Michigan boasts 1,700 employees and 200 physicians.
The primary service area includes the 10 counties immediately surrounding Petoskey and the east portion of the Upper Peninsula.
The national population density is 76 people per square mile; the population density for Michigan is 67 per square mile; and, the
population density for Northern Michigan is 39 per square mile spread across 7,000 square miles.
McLaren draws patients from an area double their coverage area. To enhance health care to the area, McLaren offers multiple outreach clinics throughout the region.

According to McLaren officials, the seasonal population changes causes an “employment rollercoaster.”
Due to the lower pay and less likelihood of medical benefits seen in many of the area’s seasonal jobs, McLaren’s charity health care
service levels have increased. “When people come to our emergency department they are treated first.
We don’t ask them what their means are,” DeVet said. “After we have treated them we can look at what their means are. If they do not have the means to be able to pay for that bill … there is a process that we have where we can look at whether there is a portion that they can pay for or whether they’re not able to pay for it at all.”

She added, “We have a number of people in Northern Michigan who qualify for Medicaid but, for a number of reasons, they choose not to. Sometimes it’s the process that puts them off but we have special people in our patient accounts that can help them work through
applying for and getting Medicaid so that they actually do have … some degree of insurance.”
Another challenge is the uptick in the senior population, causing the hospital to deal with more complex health issues of senor citizens.
McLaren and its affiliates now offer home care, medical equipment and hospice care.

DeVet said patient satisfaction is an issue McLaren continues to focus on in order to ensure the best service possible.
“We really need to focus on making sure that that individual feels, first and foremost, very safe when they are with us,” she said. “We
want to make sure that they are confident in terms of the types of services that they are getting and that it is the best it can be.”
According to DeVet, patient access and facility updates are a large part of McLaren’s growth goals.
“The facilities were created in the mid-70s for their care model at that time and here were are in 2013 with health care reform right here with us,” she said. “So, we really need to look at what must those facilities be to provide appropriate care into the future.”

DeVet said obesity and heart disease are major health issues facing the local population.
In addition to McLaren’s advanced cardiac and bariatric services is a less invasive heart catheterization technique.
“This really is like one of those miracle types of procedures,” DeVet said of the heart catheter technique. “The patient goes into the
procedure barely able to go to the mailbox and back without having tremendous breathlessness and having to rest; barely able to do their bath and brush their teeth without getting incredibly fatigued—this valve starts acting instantly and they’re able to begin to have a much more normal life.”
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