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Seventh Anniversary: 'St. Luke's is used to making history ...'

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
June 27, 2013

Although our roots go back more than 100 years, to the beginning of St. Luke’s Hospital, we are very young as a health system. We became a system in 2006 due to the tremendous vision and foresight of Ed Dahlberg, who was our CEO at the time, and a community board that could see that becoming a health system would best prepare St. Luke’s to continue its legacy and serve our communities far into the future.

When St. Luke’s Hospital opened on Dec. 1, 1902, the same year that the cornerstone was laid for Boise High School, it had six inpatient beds. St. Luke’s mission was to care for Episcopal ministers, their families, and missionaries. Within a week, it was clear that St. Luke’s would quickly expand to serve the needs of the entire community.

Things have changed significantly over 110 years. Through world wars, epidemics, industrialization, tremendous population growth, and unprecedented advances in medicine, St. Luke’s Hospital evolved into a regional medical center and became a community-owned asset. St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center was newly constructed and opened in 2000. St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center opened as a hospital in November of 2001. 

It was the decision of the Twin Falls County Commissioners, after a competitive process and community vote, to have the Magic Valley Regional Medical Center affiliate with St. Luke’s, marking our transformation to a health system.

Why is being a system significant?

Nothing has prepared us better for meeting the demands of healthcare reform. The emerging healthcare need is to manage the health of populations of people, not just the care of individual patients. 

This requires a change in focus from hospital-centric care to patient-centered care, provided in the lowest-cost setting that can still achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Patients no longer get their care from one provider or in one place. They receive care throughout their lives along a continuum that may involve a physician’s office, a community hospital, a tertiary care medical center, a rehabilitation facility, a skilled nursing facility, a long-term acute care hospital, an assisted living facility, their own home with home health services, and perhaps hospice care. 

To be effective, this requires care coordination, an integrated electronic health record, and coordination of care transitions. It requires physicians and hospitals working together, and the use of many team members – therapists, dieticians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, athletic trainers, educators, nurse coordinators, navigators, health coaches, and more. Traditional stand-alone hospitals simply cannot meet all the needs of a population. 

St. Luke’s is well-positioned and prepared for the future of health care. We are leveraging technology in ways that few stand-alone hospitals can. We are transforming the care model to promote care coordination and to position ourselves to be accountable for not just the outcomes of care, but the total cost of that care. This year, we became Idaho’s first and only accountable care organization. 

St. Luke’s is used to making history. We are doing it again. We are steeped in a tradition of unparalleled caring and care. Boise has depended upon us since 1902 and now, our region is depending on us. 

I am so proud of our legacy and history, and so excited for our future. Thanks to St. Luke's patients and families, friends, physicians, board members, and employees for all that you do to support St. Luke’s, to continue our good work, and to transform health care to meet the needs of our communities into the next century. Happy birthday, St. Luke’s Health System! Hey, go light on the cake! :)


About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.