NH’s Largest Hospital Launching Major Expansion in NH – What’s Driving It?



Welcome to Hampshire's Bussiness, I am Fred Kocher.  New Hampshire's largest hospital is launching a major expansion in New Hampshire and throughout the state. And the question is; what is driving this expansion? We are going to talk to my quest in just a minute. But first, let's go to this graphic.

That is the hospital Dartmouth Hitchcock Health. Here are some health facts; 1,500 Physicians, 1,800 Nurses,  13,000 Employees, 5 Member Hospitals, 254 Clinics Across NH & VT, and 1 Visiting Nurse Association. With me to talk about this is CEO and President of Dartmouth Hitchcock Health, Dr. Joanne Conroy.

Dr. Conroy: Thank you for having me.

Kocher: This expansion is significant, as you know, but let me put some numbers on it. $130 million expansion in Lebanon at your home base there and $59 million expansion in Manchester. So, what's driving this?

Dr. Conroy: So, each expansion is driven by different variables. The one in Hanover is driven by the fact that our patients are getting older and the need for more services and the second thing is, we serve a rural component of New Hampshire and Vermont and those small, rural hospitals are losing services, they can't support services, so we're their backstop and they send their patients to us in increasing numbers. In Manchester, the expansion is because health care is shifting from an inpatient service to an outpatient service, many of our primary joint replacements will be done on an outpatient basis. Many diseases that we take care of can be on an outpatient basis.

Kocher: Interesting. You're combining forces with Granite One Health which includes Catholic Medical Center here in Manchester. Also to expand services here and that's part of your overall expansion.

Dr. Conroy: That's correct. Catholic medical center also has a need for expanded inpatient beds driven by a couple issues. Number one, their services are actually growing. There's a huge affinity for a Catholic health care here in Manchester. Number two, they have some signature services that have been successful. Their heart and vascular programs, they're drawing people from all over the state.

Kocher: That's a major expansion in the state, but the workforce. You've got to find people to staff this expansion and there are there's a shortage of nurses. How are you addressing that?

Dr. Conroy: A couple of ways. We're growing our own. We have relationships with many of the colleges, but we're expanding our relationship with Colby Sawyer. They're talking about increasing the size of their nursing program which will be great for us. The second thing is, we have a number of workforce readiness programs, MA's, L.P.N.'s, pharmacy techs, surgical techs that we're actually paying talented young people to go to school and then employing them after they complete the certification program. 

Kocher: Do you have a lot of openings? 

Dr. Conroy: We do. We have over 700.

Kocher: Wow! Mostly in what? 

Dr. Conroy: All across all of our services. Just to give you perspective. In 2011, we had 50,000 applications for jobs. Now in 2018, we have 30,000.

Dr. Conroy: So, that means that the number of people applying for jobs has decreased by 40%, so we should be concerned about that as an entire state. 

Kocher: What will Health Care look like in the next five to ten years? 

Dr. Conroy: Telemedicine and Telehealth will change how we deliver care. We will be delivering care where patients live through smartphones, tv, video chat. We'll be delivering care in the rural hospitals to keep those patients in those facilities, instead of coming to our facilities. How and where care is delivered. I think first in areas like behavioral health. I think it's going to change quickly and specialty care, so you can actually access more providers efficiently and effectively.

Kocher: You will include smaller hospitals in this state in this expansion?

Dr. Conroy: Yes that's critical. We already do. So that will help them.