The prognosis for Marquette General Hospital and Duke LifePoint Healthcare looks very good - and that is great news for this community.
With rapid changes in the health care industry, it is getting increasingly difficult for hospitals to operate on an independent basis. The old nonprofit hospital model that Marquette General Hospital operated under is quickly becoming unsustainable.
Duke LifePoint's leadership is a huge asset to Marquette General and our entire medical community. Marquette General Hospital has recruited several new doctors in the last six months, which means they are making good progress toward meeting the expectations of adding close to 70 new physicians to the staff in the next 10 years. In addition to the close to $200 million Duke LifePoint has already spent, the organization is looking to invest another $300 million in capital expenditures over the next decade.
One of the main reasons people have travelled out of our region to receive health care is because there have not been enough doctors in certain disciplines to serve the patients in our area on a timely basis. As Marquette General continues to recruit new doctors, the need to go elsewhere for medical care will be greatly diminished.
We are also pleased to hear from MGH that the hospital is working to improve patient satisfaction through an internal "cultural journey" aimed at defining patient customer service excellence. Marquette General, along with other Superior Health Partners affiliates, have hired the Baptist Leadership Group to help them improve patient satisfaction. This group is known for offering some of the best patient satisfaction numbers in the hospital industry. It is encouraging to hear how committed The Superior Health Partners organization is to improving patient satisfaction. As more physicians are recruited and patient satisfaction is improved, local health care should be able to bring back a good portion of the estimated $80 million of health care spending leaving our area annually.
The health care industry is the No. 1 employer in the Upper Peninsula, so we are excited to see this investment being made in such an important part of our future.
The news that Portage Health and Bell Hospital are working toward partnerships with LifePoint Hospitals also means that health care in the U.P. is only going to get better. LifePoint offers all of the community hospitals the opportunity to keep their own identity. Each of these hospitals was established with a local identity and it appears that LifePoint has made it an important goal to maintain them. This should allay any fears that people associated with Bell Hospital have had about being "taken over" by Marquette General Hospital. MGH is now owned by Duke LifePoint and Bell is looking to partner with LifePoint - so they will clearly be separate entities. They will, however, have the opportunity to work together on projects that LifePoint deems as having the potential to be mutually beneficial.
Regardless of how you look at it, the future of our top regional employer - the health care industry - is looking very good. Health care industry professionals now have good prospects for being able to continue to live and work in the U.P. We also believe that most Yoopers would prefer to stay close to home for their health care needs.
With all the progress being made locally, the Upper Peninsula won't have to take a back seat to any other neighboring region when it comes to health care.