MDNews

Jim Wincek, FACHE, Vice President of Support Services 
for Pennock Hospital




Pennock Hospital has been serving the West Michigan area since 1923, when the 28-bed Pennock Hospital opened in Hastings. Today, Pennock Hospital has 88 beds and is the largest employer in Hastings and the second largest in Barry County, providing jobs for nearly 650 people.

Pennock Hospital has been recognized for three consecutive years as one of the 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. The Pennock Hospital medical staff includes 50 board-certified physicians, with offices in Clarksville, Delton, Hastings, Lake Odessa, Middleville, Nashville and Wayland, who offer a wide range of medical and surgical specialties. These physicians, partnered with the highly trained Pennock Hospital staff and state-of-the-art technology, allow Pennock Hospital to continue its tradition of providing personalized, community-focused care in West Michigan.

Q: What core business services does Pennock Hospital offer physicians and their practices as it relates to them not only professionally, but also personally?

Mr. Wincek: As a community-based hospital, we provide bread-and-butter community health services. We have a full line of diagnostic equipment and laboratory support. We have a broad base of physicians — both primary care and specialists, — to care for our community. If any patient reaches a level of acuity or illness beyond our scope, we have established relationships with larger, well-regarded tertiary centers around us where we can refer our patients for their extended care.

Q: For a physician, what are the advantages of practicing in a community hospital environment like Pennock Hospital?

Mr. Wincek: Doctors like working in smaller community hospitals because they have a broader range of autonomy. In larger hospitals, where there are lots of specialists, primary care doctors aren’t necessarily able to practice the broad spectrum of care they are able to practice in a community hospital. It’s very important to many doctors to be able to do that.

Q: Are there any common misconceptions about the community hospital environment among medical students, physicians or patients?

Mr. Wincek: Yes. Often, there is a misconception that the quality of care is lower, which is not the case at all. Most teaching hospitals are in larger communities, and they have all the amenities needed for student training. In a community hospital, we have all of those things that are necessary to take care of our community. The quality of care here is very good, and our doctors would tell you they’re very pleased with the level of services the hospital provides to them in terms of the diagnostic services, nursing services and the inpatient care.

Q: In the area of services, what core business services does Pennock Hospital offer physicians and their practices?

Mr. Wincek: As a community hospital, we offer a complete range of diagnostic capabilities for our doctors, including imaging services and diagnostic laboratory services. We have a spectacular group of nurses in this facility that takes care of our patients as inpatients. We have a home care and hospice division that takes care of patients once they’ve left our hospital and are at home, so we cover a broad spectrum of care here, from diagnostic care to inpatient care to home care.

Q: What sets Pennock Hospital apart from other health care organizations in West Michigan?

Mr. Wincek: What sets us apart is our relationship with our patients. Our administrators, physicians, nurses and staff members live in the same community as our patients, so we see them in church, and we see them in the grocery store. They are not just our patients; they are our neighbors, and they know that when they come here, they’re not a number. We care for them like family.

Q: What unique qualities attract physicians and other medical professionals to Pennock Hospital in Hastings?

Mr. Wincek: We offer a wonderful lifestyle here in West Michigan. We have more lakes per square mile than any other county in the state. If you are interested in enjoying much of what Mother Nature has to offer, it is hard to beat Barry County.

In addition, Pennock Hospital in Hastings is strategically located among Kalamazoo, Lansing and Grand Rapids. Drive 45 minutes in any direction, and you can be in the center of a metropolitan area with all the amenities you could ask for.

Q: What, if anything, needs improvement in the community health care system, and what would you do to improve it?

Mr. Wincek: We serve a population in West Michigan that is typical of any population in the country, and we all try to ensure our organization’s financial security. The economy in Michigan is difficult right now, so we are continuously looking for new ways to provide better value for our patients.

Q: Patient safety is a major issue in health care today. How is Pennock Hospital working to prevent medical errors?

Mr. Wincek: We have taken patient safety and enculturated into all of our systems. It’s like breathing. We don’t have to think about it; we just do it.  It’s second nature. It’s who we are.

Q: What are some of the specific things you are doing to advance quality care and patient safety?

Mr. Wincek: We have created a work group called the ‘Quality Choir.’ It consists of about 50 members of our leadership team. Each member of the Quality Choir has an average two or three quality projects that they are working on. We meet regularly to report results and strategize. I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Q: Can you briefly expand on it?

Mr. Wincek: Every member of the leadership team has a stake in improving the quality of service we provide … and not just patient care service. For example, plant operations monitors how long it takes to get work orders for repairs acted on, so the Quality Choir is a house-wide, leadership-wide, process-improvement, quality-improvement program.

Q: How is Pennock Hospital working with physicians to shape and advance its mission and goals?

Mr. Wincek: We are engaged in a Physician Integration Plan, which is a formal process to ensure that the administration, the board and the physicians all have the same goal. Part of the plan is to provide services to independent physicians in their offices. For example, the hospital has purchased a product that allows us to provide an electronic medical record [EMR] system to the doctors on a pass-through cost. We also have the ability to service the EMR system and maintain it through our information services department.

In addition, we provide employment opportunities for physicians, and we have a broad range of services, such as marketing and practice management, that we can provide to doctors’ offices. We’re trying to find as many ways as possible to integrate with our medical staff.

Q: How is Pennock Hospital working with the community and individual patients to advance the overall goal of a healthier community?

Mr. Wincek: Every year we conduct a strategic planning process with our Board and Medical Staff.  Because we provide services in partnership with our community, we usually have one or two community-oriented goals.  This year we are implementing a community-wide health assessment.  We intend to establish a baseline, so we can measure the real impact of our services on our patient population.

Q: What is the most significant challenge you or the Pennock Hospital administration face in leading your organization, and how are you approaching it?

Mr. Wincek: Financial issues are very difficult today, not just for Pennock, but for health care in general, so we’re focused on ensuring that we provide all the services we can and should provide in our community. For example, be believe there are a significant number of patients in our service area that must leave the community to receive dialysis services. Therefore, we are currently working toward  bringing a new dialysis center to Barry County.

Q: What is one thing your industry in general could do to improve the health care system in the West Michigan region?

Mr. Wincek: I would like to see our industry persuade more specialists to have a presence in the smaller communities. Most of them are in larger communities and don’t necessarily feel it’s beneficial to have an office in a place like Hastings; they want the patients to come to them. For our aging population, transportation becomes an issue from time to time, and if specialists would work with us to have a presence here, that would be a tremendous help to the population we serve.

Q: Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Mr. Wincek: Hastings is a great community to work and live in; it’s a great community to raise a family in; and it’s a great community to get your health care in. I can’t say enough about it. It’s just a nice place to live.

For more information, contact Pennock Hospital at (269) 945-3451 or visit www.pennockhealth.com.

MD News Future of Health Care, West Michigan


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