Springfield hospital CEO discusses drug crisis, growth

Matthew Caldwell, the new CEO of Community Mercy Health Partners, talks about his plans for Springfield Regional Medical Center. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Matthew Caldwell, the new CEO of Community Mercy Health Partners, talks about his plans for Springfield Regional Medical Center. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The new CEO of Community Mercy Health Partners said Monday that his agency is trying to address issues in Clark County ranging from chronic health problems like obesity to an ongoing opioid crisis.

Matthew Caldwell addressed the Springfield Rotary Club on Monday, one of his first public speaking events since he stepped in last year as CEO and president of Clark County’s largest employer.

Caldwell said he believes the organization must continue to focus on its mission of serving the poor and underserved. The organization is also trying to provide additional resources for patients, including a mobile mammography unit and the recent purchase of new equipment for robotic surgery.

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“The one thing that affects our county more than even the counties that surround us obviously is the drug overdose crisis,” Caldwell said.

Springfield Regional Medical Center regularly sees as many as five overdoses a day, but on some days staff deal with 20 or more. The number usually spikes when a new batch of the drug hits the streets, he said.

Most of the overdoses are the result of a mix of heroin and fentanyl, he said.

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The hospital is working more closely with the Rocking Horse Community Health Center and other agencies to find new ways to combat the problem. That includes stationing a therapist in the emergency room to make sure patients who overdose get the care they need once they are discharged.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the patients who come in, once we give them Narcan, they pull their cords off and they’re out the door. Sometimes they revisit us in just 48 hours,” Caldwell said.

Community Mercy is a health-care system with more than 2,600 workers serving Clark and Champaign counties and the surrounding communities.

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It’s a part of the Mercy Health chain, the largest nonprofit health system in Ohio and the fourth-largest employer in the state. Mercy Health will likely continue to grow in the next few years, Caldwell said, although it’s too early to say how much, if any of that growth would take place in Ohio.

“We’ll see how that rolls out,” Caldwell said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it would be in Ohio, although it might be.”

CMHP is also looking for ways to improve access to healthcare for area residents, Caldwell said. The Emergency Room at Springfield Regional sees about 70,000 visits annually, while Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana sees an additional 13,000 to 15,000. CMHP also operates senior health and housing facilities and a variety of outpatient and outreach services.

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The Springfield hospital has used robotic technology for some surgeries for years, but will also seen roll out similar technology for orthopedic surgery, which can be used for knees and ligaments, for example. The minimally invasive surgery is designed to improve patient recovery times, he said.

“The idea is if you have surgery on Monday that you’re back on the golf course by next Monday,” Caldwell said.

Moving forward, the hospital will focus improving satisfaction for patients, for employees and physicians, he said.

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