A Publication of WTVP

How does OSF Saint Francis Medical Center stack up as an independent academic medical center?

In January, I wrote about the regional impact of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Illinois. I thought it might be beneficial to take that a step further and tell you how we stack up against hospitals in much larger metro areas.

First off, I must credit Dr. Tim Miller, our vice president, chief medical officer and director of academic affairs, who spends countless hours tracking the statistics I am going to talk about.

There are 4,561 non-federal hospitals in the United States; 3,554 of those are non-teaching facilities, which means they have no medical residents seeing patients. (The residency is the hands-on training period following graduation from medical school. It varies in length depending on the specialty.) In addition, 733 are considered teaching hospitals because they train at least one residency program a year. The remaining 274 are considered academic medical centers because they have at least four residency programs. Saint Francis, with nine residency programs, falls into this category.

Academic medical centers are further separated into two categories—integrated and independent. Integrated academic medical centers are university-owned; independent centers are not owned by a medical school. Saint Francis is an independent academic medical center, and as such, enjoys a solid affiliation with the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. The strategic importance of our relation with UICOMP is exemplified through the support and leadership of the dean of the college, Dr. Sara Rusch.

Only six percent of all hospitals in the U.S. are independent academic medical centers and are able to join the Council of Teaching Hospitals (COTH), of which Saint Francis became a member in 2003. Other COTH members include the Cleveland Clinic, Beth Israel in New York, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and Cook County Hospital in Chicago.

COTH conducts an annual survey and shares the data with its members. What the numbers show is that Saint Francis is in the mid-range of this group for types and volume of patients we see, their length of stay and our total Emergency Department visits (remembering that we are in a geographically smaller metro area). We are on the high end for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and are significantly higher in our number of pediatric beds.

The other significant statistic from the COTH report is that Saint Francis handles a high volume of surgical procedures in comparison to other independent centers. We performed just over 35,000 surgical procedures in 2008, significantly higher than the average of nearly 19,000. Of those 35,000 procedures, nearly 24,000 were done on an outpatient basis, which is more cost effective and better for patient care.

According to Dr. Miller, these numbers validate that Saint Francis is a significant player among independent academic medical centers.

It should be noted that it costs more to operate an independent center, especially considering that we get no government funding for 32 of our 159 residents. The federal government capped the amount we are paid based on the number of residents we had in 1997. Even so, the Sisters maintain—and have for nearly 70 years, when the first interns trained here—that it is important to provide this training because it keeps us on the cutting edge of what is going on in the medical profession, it helps us recruit the subspecialists who make us a significant regional referral center, and training them here encourages the physicians to stay in central Illinois after their residencies and provide continued care.

This comparison data confirms that the services and educational training programs provided by Saint Francis Medical Center continue to give Peoria a major role in the healthcare of downstate Illinois. iBi