WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Providing medical care to the uninsured is among the biggest challenges facing U.S. hospitals as a new year begins, said the president and CEO of a California hospital in an exclusive interview with United Press International.
"Financing the care of uninsured patients is the biggest headache for most hospitals in the country," Martha Marsh, president and CEO of Stanford Hospital and Clinic in Palo Alto, Calif., told UPI.
But Marsh added that the community Stanford serves helps her hospital dodge some of the problems with which other healthcare facilities are struggling.
"Fortunately for us, most of the people in Palo Alto are highly insured. We are the emergency room for the community and the number one trauma center for our region in addition to being a university teaching hospital. But we aren't experiencing the financial drain inner-city and county hospitals must deal with because so many of their patients can't pay," she said.
In fact, Stanford Hospital is expanding, Marsh noted, with the facility recently purchasing a new site 15 minutes away that will house many outpatient services and most of the facility's outpatient surgery, leaving more room for critical care and research at the main location.
When asked for her wish list for 2006, Marsh told UPI that new patient care technology was at the top, followed by IT tools to allow patients to take more control of their own healthcare.
"There are so many new developments in technology that have improved how we can help people," Marsh said. "We can use a Cyberknife to excise hard-to-reach tumors, perform minimally invasive surgery to get people back home as soon as possible and even reach into the circulatory system to pull out the blood clots that have caused strokes. Once the clot is gone, paralysis and other neurologic impairments, such as loss of speech, often go away entirely. It's so exciting to see what can be done for people, it makes me proud to be in healthcare."
Marsh said her institution was full, busy and fortunate.
"We have great employees and physicians, excellent university leadership and are expanding our knowledge base," she concluded. "We're very excited about our future."