St. Mary’s works to inform the public of services through intern program

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By Jennifer Caldwell


The staff at St. Mary’s of Campbell County believes they have a good thing, and they want others to know about it.

In an effort to combat the common misconception that community hospitals can’t provide cutting edge medical treatment, St. Mary’s of Campbell County, a member of Mercy Health Partners, is allowing community members to catch a behind the scenes glimpse of the day to day operation of the hospital.

Through the newly implemented community intern program, participants have the opportunity to observe surgery, administrative procedures and everything in between.

Still in the infancy stages, the program led its third class through a day in the life of St. Mary’s of Campbell County last Tuesday.

According to Gina Williams, assistant vice president of philanthropy, the community intern program grew out of the orientation provided to hospital board members.

“This is a great way to get the community in to see their hospital,” Williams said.

Recently named a Top 100 hospital by Thomson Reuters, who is known as the world’s leading source of information for businesses and professionals, St. Mary’s of Campbell County finds itself in the company of elite medical facilities like Vanderbilt Medical Center and Duke University Hospital.

While this recognition may provide confirmation of the consistent improvements made by the local facility over the years, Williams hopes the community intern program will provide participants with first-hand knowledge of the care and service St. Mary’s of Campbell County is available to provide.

“This is a great facility and that is what we want you to come away with today,” Williams told the intern group made up of Gail Bowman, Keebler Williams and Lynn Prater.

After providing a brief informational session Williams and Emily Noss, director of marketing, wasted little time getting the group into the thick of the hospital’s routine.

During a stop at the facility’s cardiac stress lab, Dr. Ronald Yatteau explained the finer points of heart function and the tests used to diagnose problems.

“This facility is as good as any we have in Knoxville,” Yatteau said of the cardiac lab.

Next, the group donned sterile caps and suits for the observation of a gall bladder removal performed by Dr. Errol Britto.

Although Williams assured the group most participants in the program enjoyed the surgery portion of the tour, the experience proved to be not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

As the day continued, the group was treated to a tour of state of the art MRI equipment.

Headed up by Glenn Luna, the MRI department has seen a dramatic increase in patients over the last several years.

“When I came here six years ago I was seeing about 30 patients a month. Now I may see as many as 170 (patients) during a month,” Luna said.

Since receiving new equipment in March, Luna said the local facility is ahead of its big city counter parts.

“What we have here now is better than Knoxville,” Luna told the group.

In addition to MRI, St. Mary’s of Campbell County provides a wide range of imaging services include CT scans, nuclear medicine and women’s imaging.

During a tour of the emergency room, Dr. E.G. Cline stressed the importance of community support for the local hospital.

“The community needs to be aware that if we don’t have its support we might not be here one day. That (local support) is what the future of this place is based on,” Cline said of the need for more community input on the performance of the hospital.

During the debriefing session, group members said their overall knowledge of the services available at the local St. Mary’s facility had been greatly enhanced.

“There are so many people out there who are negative about the hospital because they don’t know what’s here,” Prater commented.

Keebler Williams was also impressed by the information gleaned from the experience.

“Overall the information we received today was incredible,” Williams said.