Smaller can be better

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Earlier this month, during a Heartland Partnership presentation on the economic climate in the Greater Peoria Area, Keith Steffen, president and CEO of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, made an important statement.

“As the health care debates rage in Washington and throughout our country, few things are certain,” Steffen said.

“But we know that the present system is unsustainable, change is inevitable, and the legislative outcome is totally unpredictable. However, health care is a major and strong portion of the local economy.”

The latter part of his statement, while important, is often drowned out by the anger over the former part of his statement.

Steffen, with some pride, pointed out that OSF Saint Francis Medical Center is a regional medical center.

“That has been fundamental to our ‘value proposition’ of creating market differentiation among competitors, both locally and in the region. Our regional referrals represent 34 percent of the total number of patients served ... Unique services are the primary reason people come to Saint Francis instead of going to Chicago, Springfield, Iowa City, St. Louis or Indianapolis,” Steffen said.

“The Children’s Hospital of Illinois cares for sicker patients than Children’s Memorial in Chicago, and their charges are 40 percent to 50 percent higher.”

That is fine and good.

But, it is important to note that innovation and unique services are to be found across the Peoria area’s medical community.

Today’s front page story about Chicagoan Melanie Gayton’s success in becoming pregnant, thanks to a North Peoria doctor’s persistence, after failure among Chicago’s medical community, is a story of which Peoria can be proud. 

Gayton said a couple of things set Peoria apart in her experience.

Dr. Natalie Schultz of the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine, Gayton said, was the “first and only doctor that didn’t just explain away our problem as ‘unexplained’ or due to ‘old eggs.’”

Gayton added, “I know the only reason I found success in Peoria was because of Dr. Schultz and her entire team. I believed Dr. Schultz when she told me that each time she worked with me, she was able to get that much closer to solving our infertility puzzle.”

Gayton said what set Peoria apart was the “smaller facility, the nurses and doctors who knew you personally, the one-on-one attention.”

Bigger facilities will always get the lion’s share of attention.

But, small medical practices and businesses have their place in the mix.

Gayton’s story should remind all that smaller does not mean a lesser outcome.