Out on Route 91, tucked away on the back side of the OSF Center for Health, is the Center for Health Ambulatory Surgery Center, LLC (CFHASC). It has its own entrance with parking and is a bright spot for many that need surgery, but with greater convenience. The gardens next to the entrance are lush with plants and flowers and a small stream running through the middle of it. It is so inviting that family members waiting for their loved one in surgery can often be found under one of the umbrellas at the picnic tables. The patio has a brick pathway and benches and chairs to sit in the shade. Truly, it is a bright spot.
Striving to Provide a High Comfort Level
Surgery for most people is not a happily anticipated event. In addition to the worry of the surgery itself, there is the challenge of getting to the location, having a person to drive you home, and being stressed about getting to the right area on time. Surgery at a large hospital can take a lot of navigation to find the right area. There are also worries about possibly being exposed to hospital-acquired infections. In addition, there are many more patients in waiting rooms and, of course, cost can be a factor.
At CFHASC, their mission is ‘to provide the most efficient outpatient surgical services while ensuring high quality outcomes, in a safe, patient-centered environment.’ “Ambulatory surgery centers are able to provide outpatient surgery more efficiently, without the overhead of a hospital,” sums up Thomas Feldman, Chief Executive Officer of the ASC. “We simply don’t carry the costs of a 24-hour operation and have lower acuity patients, so in many instances our expenses can be less.” For similar cases, CFHASC is able to provide a service while saving the patient and insurance carriers real dollars.
“The care is focused and streamlined,” Tom continues. “The patient’s experience is often less complicated.” The simplification begins with the ease of access. Parking at CFHASC is simple and the building is easily accessible. Walking in the front door, registration is made easy for returning patients and new ones as well. Without the larger footprint of a typical hospital, there is no need for maps, lines, or complicated directions to get where you need to go.
Cost and ease are only the tip of the iceberg when navigating healthcare, however. The patient’s overarching concern is to get better, not worse. “Since the majority of our surgery cases are elective, we have the ability to screen patients for any infections or infectious disease (like COVID, MRSA, chickenpox), and significant health issues. Patients with significant health issues do not meet our selection criteria and will be referred to the hospital. Infectious conditions must be resolved or the surgical case will be scheduled at the hospital where isolation protocols are initiated.,” explains Elizabeth “Betty” Cruz, Clinical Director and Infection Preventionist for the Surgery Center.
The Ambulatory Surgery Center’s quality measures adhere to national guidelines, which include hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, personal protective equipment, sterile processing, and surgical site surveillance. “Our outcomes are reported monthly or quarterly to regulatory bodies and accrediting organizations,” Betty assures. “We are accredited by The Joint Commission and have been since we opened.”
One Advantage After Another
It is only natural to question quality when initially met with reduced cost. At the CFHASC, however, that worry is unwarranted. “All of our surgeons are credentialed, which means we verify all of their professional records that qualify them to be a surgeon,” states CFHASC Manager of Compliance and Clinical Education Tanya Fengel, MSN, RN. “This is a long process that can last several months and includes input from their peers or previous employers. The surgeons that perform procedures at other area hospitals are often the same ones that work at our center.”
Having experienced surgeons and a streamlined process does not mean the CFHASC skimps on either the level of care or the variety of services provided. They pride themselves on their wide range of surgeries, which keeps the staff current in the many fields in which they are expected to perform. “And it provides diversity in what we do every day,” Tanya adds.
Serving around 7,000 patients per year, with an average of 30 patients being helped per day, the ratio of nurse to patient always stays between 1:1 or 1:2 throughout the visit.
Ambulatory surgery centers are regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), so the list of procedures allowed and covered at the CFHASC sometimes changes, but very slowly, Tanya says. “Several years ago, CMS recognized how much more cost effective it was to perform total joint surgery in an ASC. We now perform total hip replacements, total knee replacements, and total shoulder replacements where before they were only done at the hospital. We are very proud of our total joint program and patients absolutely love going home the same day.”
Ranging in ages from 6 months to over 100 years, the patients at the ASC may receive procedures including but not limited to general surgeries such as cholecystectomies, colonoscopies, and hernia repairs; breast surgery such as partial mastectomies, revisions post-mastectomy, insertion and removal of implants; medical and cosmetic plastic surgeries; urology procedures such as kidney stone management or stent placement; orthopedic surgery such as carpal tunnel, all hand surgeries, or total joint replacements.
“We also do a myriad of ophthalmology procedures for children and adults, which includes strabismus and tear duct surgery, correct cataracts, detached retinas, glaucoma and other eye diseases, and ptosis (drooping eyelids) procedures,” Tanya lists. “In addition, we also do podiatry surgeries, pain management such as nerve stimulator placement, and gynecological procedures. We frequently do ear, nose, and throat procedures such as ear tubes, tonsillectomies, adenoidectomies for children 6 months and older, and nasal, sinus, and throat surgery for adults.”
Best of the Best
The surgeon’s time here is also important to the CFHASC, just as is the patient’s experience. “Surgeons want their patients to have the appropriate setting for the type of case they are performing,” Tanya says. “We have an amazing staff that provides quick turnovers of the surgery rooms, which means less downtime for the surgeons. The staff work together like a well-oiled machine; everyone knows their role and they help each other whenever needed.”
To maintain that setting means employing the best of the best. “We are fully staffed and only hire persons with a minimum of two years’ experience from a similar setting,” she says. “Patients love our staff, and we get feedback thanking them by name. It is a fast-paced, multispecialty ASC where nurses are able to use their skills and knowledge while learning all the time.”
Some members of that staff have called the ASC home since it began as a department of OSF St. Francis Medical Center in July of 2001. Six years later, it transitioned to an ambulatory surgery center that included surgeon-investors. CFHASC has maintained a stable leadership team, including their CEO who has been with the facility for 14 years.
Clinical Director Betty Cruz has served patients at ASC for 15 years. While working in a cardiac intensive care unit, Betty was recruited by a colleague and started working in the pre-op/post-op area in 2007. She became manager for Pre-Post in 2008, and finally moved to her current position as Clinical Director a year later where she serves double duty as CFHASC’s Infection Preventionist.
On staff is also an on-site pharmacist, Michael Bonham, RPh. “We are one of the only ASCs nation-wide that has an on-site pharmacist full time,” Tanya states. It is an added benefit to the ophthalmology surgeons, who may need specialized medications for complicated eye procedures. Mike has been with the ASC since it opened in 2001.
All the Brighter
The CFHASC’s niche in healthcare is elective procedures, which are those types of cases that people choose to have or that are medically necessary but are not always typically emergent in nature. Cases such as carpal tunnel surgery, cataracts, hernia repairs, and, for kids, ear tubes and tonsillectomies are common cases. “We have patients tell us all the time, ‘I had no idea you were located here. I would have had my last surgery here if I would have known,’” Tanya shares.
“We also do a number of breast surgery cases and coordinate with the OSF Center for Breast Health on the second floor,” she continues. “This is so nice for a very stressful time for the patient. They come to the surgery center, we take them to the second floor for scans to detail the tumor, and we bring them down for surgery to remove that tumor. A pathologist is on-site to look at the tissue under a microscope to make sure the surgeon got all the tumor edges and then the patient is taken to recovery.”
Even though surgery is not something to which most people look forward, the Center for Health Ambulatory Surgery Center, LLC provides a beautiful setting, skilled and friendly staff, and high quality ambulatory surgery.
Center for Health Ambulatory Surgery Center, LLC is located at 8800 North Route 91 in Peoria, Illinois.