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A Conversation With … Jay Guffey

Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital CEO

Posted online

The Universal Data Set recently named Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital in the top 6 percent of rehab hospitals in 2017, up from the top 10 percent in 2015. What attributed to that change?
The measures have things to do with how many of our patients are discharged from here to home. It’s about how we can improve your functionality. We measure how much improvement we have with our clientele to be able to improve their life situation. We compare ourselves with other organizations and we are in the top 6 percent of about 800 organizations. Last year, we were in the top 7 percent and the year before the top 10 percent. So it’s an ongoing thing that we are just continually improving our processes.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is responsible for one in every three deaths in the United States and 92.1 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or aftereffects of stroke. Are these statistics reflected in Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital’s practice?
About 60 percent of our patients we see have those types of conditions. I wouldn’t say we’re necessarily seeing more of that, that’s just the nature of what we do every day. What we are seeing is our census – not just more of that percentage, but all our patients – has gone up.

How many patients do you have currently?
We reached a record actually yesterday. We have a 60-bed hospital and today we have 58 patients in the hospital. We work with Mercy hospitals and regional hospitals – so not only do they come from the big Mercy hospital here. This is a bit of an invariance to be this high. We generally run about 46 or 47 patients a day.

Are you looking to expand then?
There is what they call the graying of America. As we think of the aging population and the average age going up in America, we believe in the future that there will be need for additional beds in the rehab hospital. We don’t really have a timeline for it. It’s a conversation we probably will start looking at seriously over the next year.

Technology has impacted every industry. What is going on in the realm of rehabilitation with new innovations?
Things like using Wii technology, game-playing type things, so they can actually interact. It’s really using those motor skills. We’re using technology that helps support them so we can work with them on their gait, which are all computerized so we know when they’re tipping and leaning. There are basic things you do in physical therapy and occupational therapy, and then putting in new technology to support them and give them feedback. We have an apartment, and they can stay overnight and their family stays with them. The whole idea behind it is to acclimate them in a very safe environment to then transition to home. It’s different than acute care, where you’re trying to really work with people to get them to a point of health improvement. Here we are talking about life changes.

You officially started your role as CEO Feb. 12. What is your history with Mercy?
I started as an emergency medical technician while I was going to college and then graduated with a degree in respiratory therapy. I worked a little over a decade at the Mercy hospital here in Springfield and then I went on to other administrative and leadership roles within Mercy locally and then Mercy corporate. I worked out of St. Louis for about six years doing our electronic health records. I led the clinical team that developed the electronic health records. I came back to Springfield in 2010 as a chief operating officer for Mercy Hospital Springfield. Then I was vice president of operations for Jordan Valley Community Health Center and then came over here as the CEO.

It was the opportunity to get back into the hospital side. I was in the clinic work (at Jordan Valley), and my background is primarily hospital operations.

Jay Guffey can be reached at jguffey@mrhspringfield.com.

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