Windber Medical Center - Hospital innovators 2007

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Location: Windber, PA Website: www.windbercare.com What they're doing: Despite its rural location and small scale, there are some things going on at Windber Medical Center that sit on the cutting edge. Windber's system, built around a tiny 50-bed hospital, is tying together the work being done by its Windber Research Institute with day-to-day clinical practice. This concept is mostly at the idea stage in most institutions, including high-profile, big-bucks academic medical centers, but Windber is making it happen. Under this concept, known as The Model, patient care teams now include not only physicians and nurses, but also a researcher from the Institute whose job it is to apply what they're learning in the lab. Researchers draw in part on knowledge gained from the Institute's 40,000-donor tissue bank, which includes attributes such as gender, age, ethnicity and medical history, to predict what patients may need given the experience of similar donors. It's a noteworthy strategy--especially for a small facility out in the boonies. What's more, Windber has jumped into the Planetree model with both feet. If you’re not familiar with Planetree, imagine a hospital that sounds and feels like a high-end spa—new age, patient-centered and decidedly warm and fuzzy. As CEO Nick Jacobs puts it, the Planetree philosophy offers patients "the best of a spa, best of a hotel and best of a hospital," complete with integrative health features such as massage, aroma therapy and Reiki and comfort options like private kitchens, popcorn and bread making machines for patient's families, double beds in OB, a greenhouse, healing gardens and decorative fountains. On the less touchy-feely side, this model also gives patients complete access to charts during their stay, giving them chance to ask questions as they see fit. While Planetree has its detractors, it's hard to argue that Windber is making a great go of it.