Taken for Granted: A New Era in Care – the New SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

Patient-centered design will enhance the new state-of-the-art academic facilities.

The following article is Part 3 of a four-part series designed to showcase the extraordinary healthcare available in the great city of St. Louis and the region. Often overlooked and taken for granted, St. Louis has become a national and world leader in leading edge healthcare, expertise and groundbreaking medical developments.

ST. LOUIS – September 1 was not only the first day SSM Health took over operations of Saint Louis University Hospital, it was the first day of securing a bright future for academic medicine in St. Louis, and bringing full circle a relationship between SSM Health and Saint Louis University.

At a gathering that day of employees, physician and visitors numbering in the hundreds, leaders of SSM Health and Saint Louis University spoke to the assembled crowd about what the new relationship means. After St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay discussed the importance of keeping strong healthcare providers in the city of St. Louis, SSM Health president William Thompson stepped to the podium. He announced to thunderous applause a $500 million project to build a new replacement hospital and outpatient care center within the next five years.

“While the current hospital has served the community well, we have the opportunity to construct state-of-the-art academic facilities that incorporate the best practices in patient-centered design,” said Thompson. “This significant investment will enable us to deliver an improved patient experience and even better care for our community.”

This addition adds to unique medical services SLU Hospital has long provided to the region. For example:

  • The Center for Outpatient Blood and Marrow Transplant, the only outpatient bone marrow transplant program in St. Louis and one of fewer than ten in the nation.
  • A Level 1 Trauma Center, providing critical care throughout the region to those who need it most emergently.
  • The MidAmerica Stroke Network, now over 70 members strong, the network assists medical teams in emergency rooms at participating Network hospitals by offering consultative and diagnostic services in potential stroke cases.
  • The Center for Abdominal Transplantation, growing rapidly and vastly outpacing recent patient volumes for kidney and liver transplant.
  • The Center for Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care (C4), which with the recent opening of a hybrid cardiac catheterization lab, specialists at SLU Hospital can now perform MitraClip repair for those suffering from mitral valve regurgitation and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for patients with aortic stenosis.

Building a new facility allows SSM Health and their physician partners with SLUCare Physician Group to expand these programs and better provide mission-based care.

“We are excited about what these projects will mean for health care in St. Louis and for medical and health education at Saint Louis University,” said SLU president Fred P. Pestello, PhD. “We are eager to work even more closely with SSM Health — an organization with shared values and a similar mission — to forge a healthier future for the St. Louis region.”

SLUCare physicians have held longstanding presences at many of SSM Health’s hospitals in the region, and the relationship between SSM Heath and the University extends back more than a century. In 1903, SSM Health’s founding congregation, the Sisters of St. Mary (now known as the Franciscan Sisters of Mary) welcomed SLU School of Medicine students into their hospitals for education and training. In 1928, the University and the Sisters worked together to establish SLU’s School of Nursing.

In 1933, the Sisters and SLU opened the hospital on South Grand Boulevard today known as SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. The hospital continued to be owned and operated jointly until 1959, when the Sisters donated their share to the University.

Saint Louis University last year purchased SLU Hospital from Tenet Healthcare, which had owned the hospital since 1998, and contributed it to SSM Health St. Louis in exchange for a minority membership interest – which includes a financial interest and governance rights – in SSM Health St. Louis.

As SSM Health assumes ownership of the hospital and SSM Health St. Louis and Saint Louis University expand their partnership, the long history of collaboration between these two Catholic organizations comes full circle.

“Our future is continuing to live the mission of our sisters and of our health care providers as we work to design and eventually move into a new SLU Hospital,” says Kate Becker, SLU Hospital president.

“The Jesuit tradition of care for the person will remain at our center,” adds Robert Heaney, MD, SLUCare CEO.

For more information about medical services provided at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, visit www.ssmhealth.com/sluhospital and for more information about SLUCare Physician Group, visit www.slucare.edu.

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