Cullman Regional announces new urgent care center

Cullman Regional

CULLMAN – Cullman Regional President/CEO James Clements on Wednesday announced that the hospital will break ground on a new urgent care center in March. The urgent care center will be a freestanding 10,770-square-foot facility with its own parking lot on the Cullman Regional campus.  It will be the only urgent care center in the area that will care for patients regardless of insurance or ability to pay. 

The new urgent care center is also expected to relieve crowding in Cullman Regional’s emergency room, which commonly operates at 20 percent above capacity.

Clements broke the news during the annual "State of the Hospital" address, to a packed house in the hospital’s Colonel Cullman room.

Clements says that being on firm financial ground has allowed Cullman Regional to undertake two expansion projects: construction of the fifth floor, which is already underway, and the development of the aforementioned new urgent care center.

He took time to praise the staff, and spoke about Cullman Regional's relationship with the community, its quality of care and services, marketing, finances and growth. 

Cullman Regional employs 930 people, and has been able to provide raises for three years in a row.  It has opened a wellness center and provides special events for employees and their families.

Of the wellness center, Clements said, "As a leader in the community with health and wellness, we thought we should start at home.  The gym has been very well-received so far."

Of the family activities, he shared, "We believe that the family and what our employees and physicians do outside the hospital are what make them the team they are when they come back on the inside."

The most popular family activity at the hospital is Breakfast with Santa, with more than 1,000 participants last Christmas.

Addressing how the hospital is part of the community, Clements spoke to four areas: addressing “Community Benefit,” the community screening program, Cullman Regional's commitment to a tobacco-free campus and the annual Trunk or Treat event.

Community Benefit is a federally-calculated figure, based on a hospital's contributions to a community: financial donations, free or non-reimbursed services and charity care.  Cullman Regional’s 2016 Community Benefit was $14.48 million, up more than $2 million from 2013.  Beneficiaries include the Good Samaritan Clinic, community education and screening programs, support groups, local service groups, Medicaid clients and other poor, and local school programs.

The community screening program began in 2015, with the goal of helping participants discover health issues before they become health crises.  In 2016, Cullman Regional performed almost 2,000 free screenings, with one-third of participants being referred for further treatment and 5 percent needing immediate attention.

On Jan. 1, 2017 Cullman Regional officially became a tobacco-free facility, banning tobacco products (including smokeless and e-cigarettes) even from sidewalks and parking lots.  According to the hospital, "As the community healthcare leader, we have taken this initiative because it is in the best interest of our patients, employees and our community."

Trunk or Treat is a Halloween event that combines family and children's activities with free health screenings.

"Trunk or Treat," said Clements, "was started with the idea that we'd like for the community to understand better the services, and meet the people at CRMC.  We had 8,000 community members last year here for Trunk or Treat and screenings.  Our physicians' offices and our employees have really gotten into this.  It's a great community event that does the right thing of integrating the hospital in with the community."

Cullman Regional received three national quality awards in 2013, and increased that number to six by 2016.  Awards and recognitions include:

*U.S. News and World Report Best Hospitals 2016-17 rated Cullman Regional as a "High Performing Hospital for Heart Failure" (highest category).

*Cullman Regional achieved chest pain accreditation for its use of evidenced-based protocols to provide faster than average response to critical events, and more effective patient monitoring.

*The Joint Commission's Top Performer rating in 2014 for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, venous thromboembolism (VTE) and stroke.

*American Joint Replacement Registry

*Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Blue Distinction Center+ for knee and hip replacement

*Top 100 Rural and Community Hospital for 2016

Clements also noted that Cullman Regional's Cardiology Department performed 500 heart interventions between 2008 and 2016, with no complications.

The hospital has recently implemented the "Be Our Guest" program, creating a separate department focused specifically on improving patient and guest experiences.  The first visible evidence of this is the hospital's valet parking service.

Cullman Regional has also begun a television, newspaper and online ad campaign to update its image to the public.

According to Clements, "Market research said that our ad campaign and our branding gave the impression that we're an old hospital, limited technology, and not forward-looking.  So, we set about to change that."

Clements then addressed the hospital’s finances.

He shared that from 2008 through 2013, Cullman Regional operated at a financial loss.  In 2014 the hospital broke even with a slight profit.  In 2015 and 2016, it operated well in the black, receiving ratings upgrades from Fitch Financial both years.

"The most immediate result of that positive operating margin," said Clements, "is we're able to fund the capacity expansion…"

Development of the expansions, plus organic growth, are expected to add 175 jobs at the hospital.


Cullman Regional by the numbers

*7,498 inpatient visits in 2016, an 8 percent increase over 2015

*96,883 outpatient visits in 2016, a 3 percent increase

*44,656 emergency department visits annually

*175,000 community residents served in a six-county area

*$100 million in net revenue per year

*930 employees


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