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From left, Steve Edwards, William Mahoney, Charity Elmer, Ron Prenger and Jake McWay are among the leadership team for CoxHealth, which has more than 80 clinics and six hospitals in its system.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
From left, Steve Edwards, William Mahoney, Charity Elmer, Ron Prenger and Jake McWay are among the leadership team for CoxHealth, which has more than 80 clinics and six hospitals in its system.

2018 Economic Impact Awards 30+ Years in Operation Winner: CoxHealth

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For CoxHealth, community impact is more than just economic. At more than 80 clinics and six hospitals in 24 Missouri counties, the health system is making a daily difference in the lives of patients through cutting-edge medicine.

On Jan. 1, that impact grew with the acquisition of Cox Barton County Hospital.

“It really expands our footprint to cover a big portion of southeast Missouri,” CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards says of the 25-bed facility.

The health system also added new urgent cares in Monett, Ozark and Marshfield in 2017 and expanded its helicopter fleet. Included in recent growth was the construction of the $130 million West Tower in Springfield. CoxHealth aims to contract 90 percent of its construction work to local firms. At the West Tower, 95 percent of the project was sourced from contractors within a 50-mile radius of Springfield.

In addition to growing its locations, the health system also increased patient contact through telemedicine. Virtual visits connect patients to practitioners through digital formats where the professional can provide assistance for minor health problems. In June, CoxHealth also released its Save My Spot program.

“A patient can now go online and find a doctor and schedule their own appointment,” he says. “I liken it to ordering something on Amazon. We’re really proud about that.”

With more than 11,300 employees system wide, CoxHealth has also created an internal economic impact when it raised entry wages to $9.50 and then $10 after six months.

“I think it’s silly that Springfield has very low unemployment and very high poverty,” Edwards says. “Those numbers usually don’t go together like that.”
 
Additionally, CoxHealth is solving its own staffing problem by growing employees from the ground up at Cox College. Currently, Edwards says there are about 1,000 students enrolled in the program.

“I look at education as almost a farm system. The best teams have the best farm system in growing their own talent. Education for us is our farm system,” Edwards says.

The health system also recently graduated its first class of medical students who are completing their residencies at hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic.

“I think the hallmarks of that class graduating was how those students place in residencies,” Edwards says. “It’s a great affirmation that the program is being well accepted.”

Another well-accepted program is one that addresses the growing concern of crowded emergency rooms. The CoxHealth Advanced Practice Paramedics provide in-home care for patients who do not require an ER visit. The medics also assist patients to identify life-changing habits to improve health and quality of life.

“We’ve identified particularly vulnerable patients and our paramedics visit them routinely,” Edwards says. “Of those patients we worked with, their ER visits went down 80 percent.”

It’s examples like this that show the true impact of CoxHealth’s investments, Edwards says – which ultimately must be for the benefit of the patients.

“Our industry has to reorient itself from being forced to do what is most efficient for us to what is best for our patients,” he says.

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