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Dr. Pate’s Prescription for Change

St. Luke’s Health System’s Journey to Transform Health Care

St. Luke’s Health System at the 10-Year Mark

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
June 28, 2016

One of my great joys as president and chief executive officer of Idaho’s best and only home-grown health system is spending time with patients, their families and staff members, and some recent visits have given me the opportunity to look back at the profound impact St. Luke’s has had over time.

And because St. Luke’s is marking its first 10 years as a health system this month, I have been reflecting on what that has meant since 2006 in particular. That’s when the visionary heads of what was then a Boise hospital planned for the future of the region’s health care by formalizing some strong existing relationships, culminating in St. Luke’s Health System. Though our roots go back 114 years to the founding of St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, St. Luke’s did not become a health system until the addition of the Twin Falls hospital in 2006.

Over and over again in recent months, I have heard residents of one Idaho community talk about how they were served by St. Luke’s staff members in another community.

A patient in McCall whose life was saved by a nurse in Meridian. A patient in the Wood River Valley collaborating with physicians close to home and in Boise. Boise residents cared for while in Twin Falls for the weekend. Canyon County residents getting near-miraculous care at St. Luke’s locations in Nampa and Fruitland and following up with physicians in Boise.

Becoming a system has been incredibly significant for all the communities we serve. With hospitals in Boise, Meridian, Wood River, Twin Falls, Jerome, Mountain Home and McCall, and a new hospital to open next year in Nampa, we are making care available to residents throughout central and southwestern Idaho close to home. Increasingly, we are also providing seamless care among St. Luke’s locations, no matter where patients live.

These reports, and I could give dozens of additional accounts, let me know we are on the right track. They also validate the extremely challenging work our team has accomplished. For the past three years, due to that work, Truven Health Analytics has named St. Luke’s one of the 15 best health systems in the country. For a 10-year-old health system, that is virtually unheard-of.

Being part of a system has helped ensure the survival of critical access hospitals to continue to serve the people of rural Idaho, at a time when hospitals such as these across the country have struggled to survive.

Becoming part of a system has made improvements possible, and in the case of Twin Falls, has made possible a new, state-of-the-art replacement hospital. It also has enhanced hospitals’ ability to attract and retain talent, and later this year, to be connected together by an integrated electronic health record that will ensure seamless care for all the patients we serve, no matter where they access care in our system.

The addition of St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital, Idaho’s only children’s hospital, has allowed the provision of high-quality pediatric subspecialty services here in Idaho, obviating the need for families to leave the state, their homes and their support structures for care that previously was available only in other states.

The addition of the Elks Rehabilitation System as part of St. Luke’s has allowed us to integrate rehab and therapy services into our care delivery and to coordinate care better for some of our most vulnerable and complex patients.

Probably the greatest benefit is the clear and demonstrable advances in quality and patient safety every part of St. Luke’s Health System has made as we have come together, leveraged best practices and worked to standardize our care.

Through all of this, St. Luke’s Health System and the incredible physicians and providers of St. Luke’s Clinic have consistently been the preferred health care providers for the communities we serve.

It is absolutely amazing to think of all that has been accomplished in just 10 short years. It is with that same amazement and sense of excitement that we all look forward to the next decade – one that will bring about more change and growth even as we continue to offer what we are best known for – our care and caring for all those we are privileged to serve.

Thank you to all those who’ve shared their St. Luke’s stories with me, and to the team that makes those stories possible. Here’s to the next 10 years, St. Luke’s Health System!

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., previously served as president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009 and retired in 2020. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.