Peoria Day Surgery Center (PDSC) has been part of the central Illinois health care scene for more than 15 years, but its staff still calls it one of the area’s best-kept secrets. The surgery center specializes in outpatient and short-stay surgical procedures, according to Wanda Spacht, RN, clinical administrator. “Because of the recovery care center, we can perform procedures that require a one- or two-night stay for post-operative recovery. The specialties that utilize the surgery center are urology, gynecology, general surgery, plastic surgery, orthopedics, podiatry, ophthalmology, dental, and pain management.”

She said Peoria Day Surgery Center began performing surgical procedures in September 1990. “At that time, the name of the center was Peoria Urological Ambulatory Surgicenter. The surgery center started as a single specialty center, taking care of patients needing urological procedures. Through the next four years, surgical procedures in other specialties were approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health, so physicians outside of the urology practice began to utilize the center. In 1993, the center changed its name to Peoria Day Surgery Center. In 1995, Peoria Day Surgery Center constructed a Recovery Care Center. In April of 1996, the surgery center added the specialty of pain management to the services that were performed at the facility, and the Recovery Care Center opened in June 1997. At this time, the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board classified the surgery center as a multi-specialty facility. Gradually, three additional operating rooms were built to accommodate the increase in physicians utilizing the facility.”

Spacht said the original urological physicians embarked on the concept of a freestanding surgery center because they wanted to improve the surgical experience for their patients. “Frequently, patients encountered prolonged waiting times for their procedures to be performed at the hospitals. The physicians wanted a center that would provide easy access for their patients, with surface parking. They envisioned a surgery center that would be efficient for the patient, as well as for the physician. That vision remains the same to this day. Quality, personalized patient care remains the goal for the surgery center.”

Peoria Day Surgery Center Business Administrator Bryan Zowin said growth of the center can be attributed to equipping physicians with an excellent working environment. “We provide high-quality care to their patients, along with the latest technological advances. PDSC’s patient satisfaction score of 99 percent lends itself to word-of-mouth advertising between families and friends. Low staff turnover also promotes growth, in that patients enjoy seeing a familiar face when a return to the surgery center is necessary.”

In the near future, Zowin said facilities like PDSC will become even more common. “The practice of medicine continues to evolve, with numerous technological advances and treatments that will push more surgery to an outpatient basis and short overnight stay. The medical industry, as well as governmental agencies, continue to search for ways to improve patient care while lowering costs. Surgery centers and short-stay centers will become common knowledge to the public and, most likely, the site of choice for surgery or a medical procedure.”

Spacht said what differentiates PDSC from others in its industry is its focus on high-quality, personalized patient care. “The staff at the surgery center is highly proficient in caring for the surgical patient. They’re friendly and make the surgical experience more enjoyable for the patient. They cater to the physician, as well as the patient. Our turnover time between cases is minimal; therefore, the physician can make more efficient use of his or her time. One other aspect that sets Peoria Day Surgery Center apart from the other centers in Peoria is that we have a recovery care center. Peoria Day Surgery Center is one of only four surgery centers in the State of Illinois that has a recovery care center. In the recovery care center, patients can spend one to two nights following their surgical procedure. We have six private rooms designed to provide a more home-like atmosphere for the patient.”

One of the biggest misperceptions about free-standing surgery centers is the allegation that they “skim the cream of the crop” for surgical procedures, Zowin said. “Many believe surgery centers don’t perform surgical procedures for patients with Public Aid, Medicare, or no insurance. Peoria Day Surgery Center has been, and continues to be, a provider for patients with Medicare, as well as Public Aid. PDSC also accepts cases for self-pay and those with no insurance. Our philosophy is centered around providing the best service to physicians and their patients and to stand behind our philosophy. We accept most cases meeting the criteria of outpatient or short-stay surgery requested by physicians, regardless of insurance or ability of patients to pay.”

He said PDSC recently completed a strategic plan that outlines specialty areas that are underserved in this market, and we’re developing a plan that will make access to specialty care much easier for patients. And the facility’s upcoming marketing plans will reflect that. “Our marketing efforts in the past have centered on physicians and their staff to choose PDSC for their patient’s surgery, because of the high patient satisfaction and the efficiencies provided to the surgeons. We’re beginning a marketing campaign that will deliver our message directly to area employers and managed care plans.”

In the beginning, Spacht said the most challenging aspect for the facility was to get physicians to use the center. “Once they realized how happy their patients were with the care they received and how efficient the center was for their own practice, they were anxious to use the center. Currently, the most challenging aspect is keeping current with all of the governmental changes that affect the surgery center arena. The most rewarding aspect of the business is knowing the patients and physicians appreciate the extra care and attention they receive. Since 1990, we’ve served more than 50,000 patients, so we’re pleased that we’re gradually losing our status as the best-kept secret in town.” IBI