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Centra In The News

Modernization Plan with CEO Amy Carrier | & so much more

Published on Monday May 15, 2023


In this episode of "& so much more", join President and CEO Amy Carrier as she takes you behind the scenes of Centra's transformative projects. With her passionate and insightful discussion, Amy reveals the upcoming initiatives that promise to revolutionize Centra's facilities and enhance the well-being of the community and its surrounding areas. From state-of-the-art healthcare advancements to innovative infrastructure improvements, each project is designed to elevate the standard of care and create a lasting positive impact. Get ready to be inspired as Amy provides a sneak peek into the future of Centra and its commitment to excellence.

As the episode progresses, she unveils exciting details about these developments, teasing listeners with the promise of significant improvements that will enhance the health and well-being of the entire community. With each update, Amy's enthusiasm and dedication shine through, leaving you eager to learn more and witness the positive transformation that awaits. Stay tuned for upcoming episodes as we dive deeper into these projects, sharing in-depth insights and stories of the remarkable impact they will have on Centra and the people it serves.

Learn more about the Centra Modernization Plan

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Stephanie McBride: Thank you so much for tuning into, & So Much More, once again. We have a very special addition today. With me is my co-host Diane Ludwig. Diane is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer here at Centra. My name is Stephanie McBride, I'm Manager of PR and Communications, and our special guest today is our CEO and President, Amy Carrier. We're here to talk about Centra's modernization plan. Back in March, we announced the multi-year initiative of this plan, to meet the deepest needs of our community and to enhance the facilities where we provide care. So we're going to talk a little bit more about that today.

Diane Ludwig: Amy, goodness, we are so excited that you are here with us today. But before we jump into this incredible modernization plan, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Amy Carrier: Well, I have been here in Lynchburg now, for going on two years, it's over a year and a half. It's been a great year, wonderful opportunity to lead the team through so many difficult times and to have so many things ahead of us, that really are inspiring hope in our caregivers, in our community. Outside of work, there are a lot of things that I enjoy and that includes the mountains. So I love hiking and lakes, and I really enjoy paddle boarding and getting out in the sunshine, anything outdoors, running, hiking, biking, and this is a beautiful community to be able to enjoy all of those things.

Diane Ludwig: So a little birdie told me though, that you are also a yoga instructor? So you list all these wonderful things, but you are also a trained yoga instructor?

Amy Carrier: I am. I went through the training in September. It was part of actually, rehabilitating my foot from an injury, and I found just so many benefits of yoga, from mindfulness and meditation, to flexibility, improving bone density. I mean, there were so many wonderful benefits and I thought it would be great if I could get my yoga certification and maybe bring that to our teams, so you never know what the future might hold?

Stephanie McBride: That's exciting. We'd love that. Absolutely. Well, let's dig into talking about the plan a little bit. Part of the announcement is, the fact that this is a $500 million plan. It's the largest capital investment in the history of Centra. What the plan is really all about, is our community, they're the heart of the plan. And a lot of what has been decided about this plan was based on the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment and some of the needs that were identified there. Amy, can you tell us a little bit about the needs that were identified and then how the plan will address those?

Amy Carrier: So, Stephanie, you are so right. The modernization plan is the biggest investment that we have made at Centra in a very long time, and really, the backbone of it is our Community Health Needs Assessment that we completed in 2021. And this first phase of the modernization plan really focuses on the Lynchburg region. Within this region, we have four areas of priority that emerged from the voice of the community as part of that process. And those four areas of priority were, access to care, access to behavioral healthcare, issues impacting children and child welfare, and lastly, chronic conditions. And so the modernization plan really attaches to those four priorities and the work that we're doing is to modernize, where we care to address those community needs.

Diane Ludwig: Great. Amy. So $500 million is a huge investment into this community. How is Centra going to finance that?

Amy Carrier: That's a great question. It's one of the questions that I'm asked most often. Well, first and foremost, Centra does not need to own and build everything. We have assets, in terms of the land that Centra owns, and we have fantastic partners that we work with, such as Remedy, who is the company that we're partnering with on our medical office buildings. They've made in the past, investments in other communities and partnering in this way, to develop really beautiful, comprehensive medical office buildings. And other partners for example, with LifePoint Health, we talked with them at first about our acute rehab needs. And as we were talking more and more about the acute rehabilitation hospital on the Simon's Run campus, we also had an opportunity to learn about the now, over 27 behavioral health facilities that they have built and operate in 26 states. So they are really emerging as a leader in specialty care, which aligned very well with our desire to build out the Simon's Run campus for specialty care facilities. And so we shoulder some of the burden of the capital investment through our partnerships, although there are pieces of the investment that we really take on solely at Centra, and that is in particular, the work that we're doing on the Lynchburg General Hospital campus. That work includes the expansion of our parking, which should really please the community. It also includes the construction of the new emergency department and the tower that will be above the emergency department. And we're very fortunate that we were able to refinance our bonds in 2021 just before the rate hikes happened. And so with a very good bond rating, we were very successful in refinancing those and we're able to have a really low interest rate, which allows us to be stable financially and also make the investments that we need to make on this campus to modernize care here.

Diane Ludwig: Before Stephanie, you ask your question, I noticed you used the word partner a lot, and so we partner with our community to live their best life, how important those joint ventures and those partnerships that we have in our community. So that's really exciting. Thank you for sharing that.

Stephanie McBride: Yeah.

Amy Carrier: Thank you. I have to jump in here and say, that we are so fortunate. We have so many partners, whether it's through being an ambassador for Centra and the excellent care that we provide, or probably one of our most important partners, is the Centra Foundation and the work of our foundation leaders is really part of how we will finance this project, as well. I know that there are many in the community who I've talked to already, that are so excited and are asking me, "How do we become a part of this?" And so I think the best way to do that, is really to connect through the Centra Foundation.

Stephanie McBride: Thank you for that, Amy. One of the most exciting and most recent announcements is the Mother Baby move to the Northeast Care Tower, so from Virginia Baptist to Lynchburg General. Tell us a little bit about that and really, the heart behind that?

Amy Carrier: So, I think the community has been talking about the possibility of this move for a Mother Baby really, for almost, if not more, than a decade. And I think that the plan we have for Mother Baby in the new tower, really honors the legacy of excellent care that we have had at Virginia Baptist Hospital, now for almost 100 years. And as we thought about what would be most impactful and meaningful in the new tower, this really was the service that came to mind first, for us. We are not just relocating services, we're redesigning care around the mothers, the fathers, the partners, the babies, really thinking, what is a modern place to give birth and to celebrate the joy that's parenthood. And so our design really looks at what are best practices in facilities across the country and incorporates that into what will be, I think a really beautiful experience for families here in our community.

Diane Ludwig: That's great. So exciting for moms-to-be and for our community.

Stephanie McBride: So, let's go over what this modernization plan includes. Okay. So it includes a new care tower, a new medical campus on Simon's Run, so rehab facility, behavioral health facility. We've got a medical office building right here on the Lynchburg campus. It's a remote patient monitoring program and parking.

Diane Ludwig: Parking.

Amy Carrier: Parking.

Stephanie McBride: Which we know.

Amy Carrier: Well, if you want to be super excited, it also includes utilities, Diane.

Diane Ludwig: Oh, yes. Let's talk about that. So Amy, all of this is combined and pulled together and funneled through our strategic plan.

Amy Carrier: It is.

Diane Ludwig: So can you talk to us and help the community understand how all that weaves together and how that's going to take us, Centra, well into the future?

Amy Carrier: Sure. So our strategic plan, as you know, is a three to five year plan. Within that plan, we had three areas of priority that we affinitize different initiatives and strategies within each of those three. One of those really focuses on community health and access and value-based care and so within that, we house this modernization of care. And as I mentioned earlier, it's a phased approach, not only this first phase in the Lynchburg region, which will be followed by the Centra Southside Community Hospital. That work is already underway to do the assessment and to look at the population health needs and their community health needs assessment, as well. And then in the fall, we'll begin to work with Bedford to do the same for that community.

But within the strategic plan itself, this area of priority, houses really, the modernization projects. And when we think about the area of priorities, it's really a 12 to 18 month planning process that is based on and really connected to our operating plan that's funded by our budget. So that's how all the elements come together. As I mentioned, there's four areas of need through the Community Health Needs Assessment will remain a priority for the Lynchburg region until we repeat the Community Health Needs Assessment, which we'll be preparing to do in 2024 and through 2025, when it's announced again. Those four areas, you mentioned a number of different projects.

One way that I like to think about the projects, is to think about how we're expanding access to care across the continuum. So as we think first about, care that's delivered in the home, so how are we able to really support our community who have chronic conditions like heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, through these devices that can be deployed to their home? They can monitor their condition every day, connect with our caregivers, and really understand when they're starting to have some health challenges or their condition deteriorates. Our caregivers and providers can intervene earlier and help them to stay healthier and stay out of the emergency department and out of the hospital. So I love that we're expanding and providing the support to our community.

As we think about access again, in the ambulatory space, that medical office building will house a number of services including the home for our comprehensive brain and spine. So thinking about neuro sciences, neurology, neurosurgery, therapy, diagnostics, all of those will come together around the patient, much in the same way that we've done it in the past with the Pearson Cancer Center and with the Heart and Vascular Institute. So we're really excited to create this modern home for brain and spine.

There will be other surgical specialties there and other outpatient services, as well. And the land that we're building this on, really does give us an opportunity in the future for expansion as it's needed and allows us to begin to decompress, what can be a really complex and hard to navigate campus. So shifting and thinking about how we deliver outpatient care in a way that's easier for our patients to navigate.

As we keep thinking about the continuum in inpatient and acute services, the ED is always the first place that comes to mind and we know Lynchburg General has a very busy emergency department. And of course, we also know that since COVID, we've had a lot more challenges with anxiety and depression in our community. The impact of that, the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and the need for the ability to support a greater number of patients who have behavioral health issues, is really at the forefront of our thinking around our emergency department. We're thinking, how do we holistically integrate behavioral health services at every point of care, whether it's through primary care or the emergency department or our outpatient services, even into the inpatient area with the acute facility, our new behavioral health hospital on our specialty care campus?

One of the things I love about the emergency department project, is that we have some of the best thinking in the country, putting their knowledge into the design of this facility. We will be building an integrated EmPATH unit. I know everyone's familiar with the EmPATH unit that we're opening this summer, that is a modular unit attached to our current emergency department. But the EmPATH unit gives us the ability to help, to really move forward those behavioral health patients while they're in the emergency department, and to get them into a therapeutic setting that will allow them to begin the healing process. And up to 60% of those patients in EmPATH units around the country, have been able to be discharged directly from the EmPATH unit instead of admitted. So it's very exciting to think about how behavioral health is really woven into the services that we're providing here, as well.

And then lastly, as we think about inpatient facilities, of course the new tower, it gives us not only a new home for Mother Baby, but it also gives us expansion space so that we can start to think about how we design care within our facility to really enhance flow and enhance our patient and our family's experience. I think that will begin at the front door with the parking. All of the parking will be for patients and visitors in the very front of our building, making it a much easier for them. You mentioned a nomenclature that I think is really interesting. We're looking at wayfinding, as well Stephanie, you mentioned the Northeast Tower. We have of course, our East Tower as we call it today, which is our front door, our main entrance, but we're moving away from that. We're going to use some of the best practices that we've seen in other facilities, to use color, symbols and naming conventions that will really help our community to know where they're going and where they are in our facilities, which can be a real challenge.

Stephanie McBride: It's so great because it's comprehensive. We're thinking about this comprehensively. So it's not just about the parking, it's not just about ED expansion or the tower or the move of Mother Baby, but it's really just as simple as something like parking and then finding your way to your loved one's room. And so we really are thinking about this holistically, rather than just approaching it from a one-off perspective. And so that really speaks to our planning of this initiative and how it feeds into, of course, the strategic plan like you've talked about. So anything else?

Diane Ludwig: I had a question.

Stephanie McBride: Yeah.

Diane Ludwig: One more question I think is important here. What is the timeline?

Stephanie McBride: Oh, very good.

Diane Ludwig: When is all this going to come to fruition?

Amy Carrier: It's a great question, Diane. It's a long timeline because we have so many projects that we're doing, we anticipate that this will keep us busy through 2027. Right now, we are working with our design teams. Some of our projects will be enabling projects, so it might be visible signs to our community a little bit earlier, some of those are already underway. We have parking expansion underway. We'll be doing some of the utilities work for our new central energy plant. We will likely have a shorter timeline on some of the projects that are off campus, because that helps us, again, to decompress the Lynchburg General campus as we think about the projects that will happen there.

So we will see signs of the medical office building, signs of site development and preparation for construction out at Simon's Run and those facility projects are probably two and a half to three years. When we look at the emergency department in the tower, that's at least a four, four and a half year project.

However, the good news is that, some projects are already underway, like our central command, our central transport, the telehealth services that we have, some of the virtual services that we're providing, virtual sitters, that's the beginning of virtual nursing. And of course on March 6th, we went live with the home base monitoring, which is really exciting.

Stephanie McBride: Amy, anything else that you would want to add that we have not covered that you would want our viewers to know?

Amy Carrier: I think, just that we're so appreciative of their support of Centra throughout the years. We are really excited about this project and the long-term sustainability of Centra, the excellent care of our providers and caregivers and just this rich foundation that we have the legacy of excellent care that we're going to build on. And so I'm very thankful for the support of our community and those that have reached out to me, who have said, "We're so proud of the work that Centra is doing." I want to say thank you to the community and I want to say thank you to our providers and our caregivers, for the hard but meaningful work that they do every day.

Stephanie McBride: What an exciting time to be part of Centra and part of our community. Viewers, thank you so much for tuning in today. You can learn more about our Modernization Plan on our website. As we develop over the next three, four, five years, we will continue to message as we break ground and as doors open and all of the different facets of this plan that will come to fruition. And so we invite you to stay tuned and to follow along with us. But otherwise, we thank you for tuning in and we hope you have a great day.