Recent publications in our region have demonstrated a myopic view of the management and direction of our hospital. Please allow us to document our experience of the past 12 years.
In 2002, Tahoe Forest Hospital was a small hospital providing adequate care to our community. Complex cases were transferred to larger facilities in Nevada or California. Commonly, patients and their families would need to spend significant time away from their homes and jobs to deal with their illnesses. We did not have a relationship with a medical school, had minimal educational programs for the clinical staff, and minimal expectations for change.
After Robert Schapper took the helm, those expectations were rapidly altered:
• Our medical staff became actively involved in our strategic planning process.
• We have been able to maintain existing and recruit necessary specialty services to our area.
• Our cancer program saw our first patient in 2006.
• We were invited to join the UC Davis Cancer Care Network in 2008.
• In 2009, the UC Davis Rural PRIME Program in Medical Education began, where third and fourth year medical students would rotate through primary care, Ob-Gyn, and pediatrics with members of our medical staff as their instructors.
• Numerous members of our medical staff have now obtained voluntary clinical faculty status at the UC Davis School of Medicine.
• UC Davis designated Tahoe Forest Hospital as a Rural Center of Excellence.
• The Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research was founded.
• Educational programs for the entire clinical staff have increased in frequency and regularity to the current status of daily virtual tumor board conferences with UC Davis, monthly cancer conferences, and an annual rural healthcare conference attended by physicians and nurses from rural western America.
• Educational programs for the medical staff and hospital employees regarding changes expected with healthcare reform were created.
• Our operating rooms have increased in functionality.
• Our patient satisfaction scores have consistently awarded us critical acclaim from our peers.
• We obtained a critical access designation from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
• Our hospital was awarded “top 100 critical access hospitals” status.
• Led by Marsha Schapper, we developed the Tahoe Forest Multi-specialty Clinics to enhance the stability of the medical community and further facilitate the recruitment of appropriate specialty services.
• We opened the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in 2012, providing comprehensive oncology services including state-of-the-art radiation therapy.
• Our hospital became “Baby Friendly” at a time when less than 100 U.S. hospitals were able to.
• Our maternity and family department received Beta Tier 1 and 2 Safety Awards.
• Our hospital foundation became robust and successful for the benefit of our community.
• We have published articles in peer reviewed scientific journals.
• We have been recognized as a model for rural oncology.
• Our accrediting agency gave us a commendation for the degree of quality practiced throughout the institution.
• Our hospital now ranks higher in patient satisfaction than comparable hospital groups, all California hospitals, and Malcolm Baldridge recipient hospitals nationwide.
• We have an active clinical trials program with an increasing number of patients being offered cutting edge therapies usually reserved for academic centers.
• We have developed the Wellness Neighborhood program focused on addressing community issues of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, dental health, smoking cessation, childhood obesity, cultural disparities, and mental health.
• We are partnering with other local community services for many of those programs, including the school district for the B-Fit Program addressing childhood obesity, a student athlete care program, and a concussion prevention, management and research program.
• We are developing an Orthopedic Center of Excellence program.
• The level of complexity of our patients’ cases has increased dramatically due to our commitment to continual process improvement and continual education.
Absolutely none of these changes would have taken place without the vision, experience, and stability of our CEO, Robert Schapper.
We urge you to support us, your physicians, as we support our health system and our board of directors.
This letter was signed by the following: Debbie Brown, MD, pediatrics; Lisanne Burkholder, MD, internal medicine; Shawni Coll, DO, obstetrics & gynecology; Julie Conyers, MD, general surgery; Jeffrey Dodd, MD, orthopedic surgery; Laurence Heifetz, MD, medical oncology; Melissa Kaime, MD, hematology & medical oncology; Myrone Kamenetsky, MD, radiology; Benjamin Kaufman, MD, psychiatry; Johanna Koch, MD, family medicine; Ahrin Koppel, MD, hematology & medical oncology; Thaddeus Laird, MD, radiology; Timothy Lombard, MD, cardiology & internal medicine; Patrick Osgood, MD, orthopedic surgery; Daphne Palmer, MD, radiation oncology; Alar Saaramets, MD, anesthesia; Peter Taylor, MD, obstetrics & gynecology; Bradley Thomas, MD, anesthesia; Steven Thompson, MD, obstetrics & gynecology; Gregory Tirdel, MD, pulmonary & internal medicine; and Nina Winans, MD, sports medicine.