Providing compassionate, high quality care for all individuals.

That’s the mission of the Marina Del Rey Hospital, according to President and CEO Fred Hunter, who spoke before the Marina Affairs Committee at its meeting at the Marina del Rey Hotel Aug. 17.

Hunter’s presentation, titled “Leading a new wave in health care,” in reference to the hospital’s proximity to the water, focused on the various services that it offers. As a former nurse, Hunter said his perception and goals for how the hospital functions, are different because of his medical background. The needs of the patients and the operation of the hospital are viewed from a different perspective, he said.

“Marina Del Rey Hospital needs to be recognized for its medical excellence in spine surgery, bariatric surgery, orthopedic surgery, cardiology and the emergency room (ER),” said Hunter, who has been the president and CEO of the hospital for the past four years.

The hospital now also has a new state-of-the-art 64-slice CT (computerized tomography) scanner that can scan the heart, he noted.

Hunter said the hospital at 4650 Lincoln Blvd. was originally built in 1969 and it has gone through several name changes. In 1980 it was known as Daniel Freeman Hospital, and in 2004 it became Centinela-Freeman Medical Center. Hunter recalled that Tenet Healthcare Corp. slated the hospital for closure just six months after acquiring it from a Catholic hospital chain.

In 2007, the facility was renamed Marina Del Rey Hospital.

Hunter’s goal is to provide excellence of care, patient satisfaction, operational efficiency, and satisfaction with the hospital services for the community. Among his concerns are that with health care reform in the county, individuals need to be responsible for their own health, and that discharging patients too soon could result in their having to return, which results in higher costs.

Working to change the processes in the hospital and redefining emergency room (ER) care is another of his goals.

“It’s not good to wait in ER when you’re in pain but not admitted because you’re not having a heart attack or a stroke. The patient and the family having to wait is very stressful,” said Hunter.

He believes there is a need to renovate the ER as well. Hunter said he wants concierge services for all patients, with ease of access for admission and services, and hopes that patients who walk in can be accepted as quickly as those admitted by ambulance.

“We want to be able to give all of our emergency patients the same experience, no matter the reason they came to the ER, and provide excellent care and satisfaction,” he said.

In response to a question from the audience, Hunter said he wants to change admission by putting the patient in a bed first, then doing the paperwork at that time, as well as to offer a sense of privacy that is now lacking in the waiting room. Patient rooms should also receive upgrades. The hospital is licensed for 144 beds, and 76 are in use today, he said.

The hospital works with renowned spine surgeons, and has affiliations with the Marina Spine Center, DISC Spine and Sports, and Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedics.

Hunter said that complicated spine surgeries are performed there and with new advances in technology, medicine is brought to a higher level.

Marina Del Rey Hospital is not a trauma center, said Hunter, who pointed out that the hospital practices courtesy and respect, with a good team of doctors and nurses working together.

The ER has board certified emergency medical physicians, and the wait time is generally shorter at this hospital than most ERs, said Hunter. At times, the ER has been closed to ambulance traffic, and there is an emergency link to identify when the “saturation point” has been reached and the ER must close, which he said makes it easier to decide where to take the ambulance patients.

Hunter explained that in July, the ER was not closed as much — approximately eight hours in one month, versus the 100 hours per month previously experienced. “That means we are getting our patients treated faster,” he said, adding there are 60 ER calls on average per day.

Among other proposals are for intensive care to be remodeled, as well as gastroenterology. There are two new operating rooms and Hunter said they are waiting for licensing.

Electronic medical records will be utilized in the future, which Hunter said will contribute to providing more patient information in a faster, more effective way, with less room for error than written records. Hunter said that federal law requires that by 2014, electronic records must be on real time. A hospital of Marina Del Rey’s size has over 400 doctors on staff, including general surgeons for a variety of specialties. While there are gynecological services, the hospital does not provide obstetrical services, he said.

There are internal medicine physicians and approximately 10 nephrologists on staff. While there is no psychiatrist on staff, he said, some patients being treated could receive mental health care, such as the homeless or those patients working with a social worker. There is no pediatric care offered, although children are treated in the ER and if necessary, transferred to Miller Children’s Hospital or Mattel-UCLA, Hunter explained.

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