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Burn Center Move Brings Business To Hospital

The relocation of the Grossman Burn Center brings new business and a boost in status to West Hills Hospital & Medical Center while leaving empty space at Sherman Oaks Hospital, officials said. The nationally and internationally recognized burn center, which was headquartered at the Sherman Oaks facility for more than 40 years, moved into West Hills Hospital & Medical Center on July 17 where 39 beds are dedicated for the center’s use. Just within the first few days of operation of the new center, the hospital had already received multiple out-of-state transfers, said Beverly Gilmore, the hospital’s president and CEO. Gilmore said she expects the new partnership, which establishes the burn center as an internal department, will increase business at the hospital and boost its regional presence. “It is a very specialized, prestigious service that definitely fits in the strategic plan for West Hills (Hospital), which is to raise the level and complexity of care,” she said. “We’re striving to be a hospital where we serve the community and you don’t have to leave the community for most of what you need.” While the hospital used to primarily focus on basic community services, it has become more of a regional hospital with a greater focus on neurospine, cardiovascular and oncology services, Gilmore added. The new center, which includes a team of 36 staff and 10 physicians, will also likely attract more patients and increase surgery volumes at the hospital, she said. The hospital invested about $4 million into the new center, which occupies space formerly used as the hospitals’ critical care unit, one of the departments transferred to a newly constructed building in May. The funds were used for building renovations and new equipment, including newer and larger hyperbaric chambers, hydrotherapy technology and state-of-the-art ventilators. The center also received telemedicine technology that allows physicians from different centers to communicate and make consultations through videoconferencing. New investment Dr. Peter Grossman, the center’s medical director and son of its founder, said the high level of investment was a major reason the center decided to change locations. “We … moved not only to a facility that’s of great quality and of newer technological advances, but with a new partner that’s willing to allow us to grow and not just rest on the reputation that we had made in the past,” Grossman said. The center also moved because its business model no longer aligned with that of Sherman Oaks Hospital, which was purchased by Prime Healthcare Services in 2006, he said. The new owner’s regulations regarding which kinds of health insurance could be accepted made it difficult for many of the center’s patients to access the burn services, Grossman said. “When it became apparent that the ownership of Sherman Oaks Hospital and Grossman Burn Center weren’t in sync anymore as to what their vision of the future was, we decided that it was time to find a potential new home,” he said. “It was very important for us to keep that new home in the community in which we had grown here in the San Fernando Valley.” A larger space and more private rooms played a factor in the change as well, Grossman added. At the West Hills site, the burn center has about 13,500 square feet of dedicated space, which offers about 20 percent more bed space than it did at its former site. The burn center also plans to establish a greater focus on clinical research and development by partnering with local universities. “There’s a lot of very exciting potential advances that are going to come around over the next 10 years,” Grossman said, citing examples such as transplants that use tissue from other individuals and the use of stem cells to grow tissue the body wouldn’t reject. The growth in research and development would likely start by the beginning of 2011, he said. The burn center also has locations in Santa Ana, Bakersfield and Lafayette, La. Filling an empty space With the Grossman Center now anchored in West Hills, Sherman Oaks Hospital officials are considering what to do with the empty space the center left behind. “The final plans for that space have not yet been determined, but it can be anywhere from our emergency department to our (intensive care unit),” said Sherman Oaks Hospital CEO Bob Bills. “We’re looking at a number of services.” Programs that could be expanded include the hospital’s orthopedic services, cardiovascular surgery and neurosurgery. The hospital also has plans to further develop its gero-psychiatric and wound care services. While the center created a national and international platform for the hospital, Bills said the loss of the center would not harm the hospital’s standing in the community. “It gives us an opportunity to fulfill the community obligation that we have and build our patient base,” he said. “We were fortunate enough to have Richard and Peter (Grossman) with us for a number of years, and we wish them well.”

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