“You treat a disease; you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.” – Robin Williams in the movie Patch Adams.’
Caring requires a lot of time, effort, energy, and, most importantly—heart to not just treat the disease but look beyond and treat a person’s mind and spirit too. This is how the staff of St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® cares for their patients with a commitment to provide the best positive patient experience. That is the mission of Catholic Health – to celebrate the gifts of life, health, and healing.
Founded over a century ago, St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® has earned a lot of prestige for its devotion to caring for the sick. Their faithfulness to their mission of mercy has brought them accolades, like the declaration of being the national leader in Cardiology & Heart Surgery from US News & World Report over 14 times. They have also received the NYS Stroke Center designation, as well as the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA) Get With The Guidelines® (GWTG) Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.
In an endeavor to search for the best caregivers around the globe, Insights Success crossed paths with the President of St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center®, Charles L. Lucore, MD, MBA, to learn more about the 100-year journey of the hospital, what drives them to care for and heal the sick, the struggles they faced in the pandemic, and what is in their heart for the next 100 years.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
What was the initial idea behind the inception of St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center®?
St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® was founded in 1922 by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Two of the sisters were traveling door-to-door, selling embroidered cloths to support their Order’s missionary work. One day, they happened upon Carlos Munson of Manhasset, NY, who offered them a home and 15 acres of land so that they could further their good works. It was initially used as a summer camp for inner-city children but was later used to care for the increasing number of children with rheumatic fever. Eventually, it was turned into a small sanatorium, which then opened its doors to adult patients in 1954. The hospital was designated as New York state’s only Cardiac Center in 1979. St. Francis later became a part of the Catholic Health System at its inception in 1997.
What are the primary objectives and philosophy of the hospital?
We, at Catholic Health, humbly join together to bring Christ’s healing mission and the Catholic Church’s mission of mercy expressed in health care to our communities.
At St. Francis Hospital, the health and well-being of our patients are our primary concerns. Our ministry is to heal the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Quality and safety are our top priorities and our staff works tirelessly to make St. Francis the best place to work, receive care, and practice medicine.
What are your top-notch offerings that have a strong foothold in the healthcare industry?
St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® is New York State’s only specialty designated cardiac center and a nationally recognized leader in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cardiac disease. St. Francis has been repeatedly ranked as one of the best hospitals in America by US News & World Report, most recently for 2022-2023, in five adult specialties– Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Neurology & Neurosurgery, and Orthopedic Surgery. We were also recognized by US News as high performing nationally in four adult specialties, cancer, pulmonology, diabetes, and urology, and high performing in 16 adult procedures and conditions. St. Francis was also rated among the top 10 hospitals in the region, ranking #6 in New York State and #6 in the New York Metropolitan Area.
Additionally, we have earned the prestigious Magnet designation for nursing excellence four times in a row, along with numerous quality accolades including 19 Leapfrog ‘A’ designations – the most for any hospital in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens – and the CMS 5-Star quality award once again for the third consecutive year.
Catholic Health continues to expand St. Francis’ award-winning cardiac catheterization services by offering care at our sister hospitals across Long Island.
As a leader in cardiovascular care for more than 50 years, St. Francis also offers outstanding programs in vascular, prostate, ear-nose-throat (ENT), gastrointestinal surgery, oncology, neuroscience, and orthopedic surgery.
What are the roadblocks that St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® faces in the ever-changing landscape of the business world?
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the landscape of healthcare. We are always looking for staff to uphold our high standards of quality, safety, and care. Fatigue with the length of the pandemic has threatened the future generations in the healthcare industry that are necessary to carry on St. Francis’ culture of caring and respect. Some have opted out of the healthcare industry completely, causing those who have not to carry immense weight in order to succeed and carry on the mantle of our mission. It has driven away some of the best and brightest from choosing a career in healthcare for another industry.
That being said, the managed care landscape is also increasingly competitive, so we are always actively searching for the most talented clinical and support staff.
As the cost of care accelerates related to inflation, supply chain challenges and the pandemic, our hospital exerts the necessary fiscal stewardship to balance the increasing costs of care in a progressive environment of declining reimbursement that has existed for more than two decades.
How is St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® adapting to market orientation?
We adapt by differentiating our care through providing an exceptional patient experience grounded in outstanding patient outcomes and safe passage throughout our care environment. St. Francis is expanding our ambulatory centers throughout Catholic Health. Technological advances have made the surgery niche more reliable with improved outcomes, which allows us to shift patients from inpatient to outpatient care with improved outcomes and patient experience. Our patients are at the center of everything we do and we are constantly looking to enhance their experience and continue to improve in the quality of care we render to them.
What is your stance on implementing innovative technologies?
Innovative technology stands at the forefront of evolving healthcare. We have hired some of the most influential and innovative clinical leaders across all service lines and have a significant research and education initiative through multiple services, including cardiovascular medicine and cancer care, that is internationally recognized. We are constantly integrating new advancements in care across all of our major service lines to be leaders in technologies and services that provide the best and safest care to our patients.
In what traditions is the hospital and heart center contributing to the communities?
St. Francis Hospital and Heart Center® is an active member of the community and works hard to improve the health and wellness of those we serve. We have an outreach bus that visits community-based organizations to provide cardiovascular screenings and health education. We also send nurses to local libraries on a regular basis to do blood pressure screenings. At our DeMatteis Center, we offer a wide variety of community wellness programs, including stretch and relax, chair exercise for seniors, moving for balance, meditation, and stress management. Also, at the DeMatteis Center, we have a walking club open to the community where people can gather together and safely exercise. We have partnered with the American Heart Association in support of their annual Heart Walk as well as the American Cancer Society for their Making Strides for Breast Cancer event. Additional programs includes a diabetes prevention program, diabetes education, diabetes support group, weight management program, outpatient physical therapy, student-athlete screenings, a stroke support group, and an LVAD support group. We also offer American Heart Association Certified Training for CPR, and have special classes for girl and boy scouts, church groups, and teachers. We offer a Stop the Bleed course that helps bystanders become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. Each fall, we hold Healthy Sundays with our local parishes. This targets groups in medicinal need and provides free flu shots for the upcoming flu season.
What is the next chapter for St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center®?
The next chapter relates to the expansion of our premiere service lines that are ranked in the top 50 nationally, including cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, gastroenterology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, and geriatrics.
We intend to expand our facilities, both inpatient and ambulatory care and contemporize them to be consistent with the exceptional award-winning care that differentiates St. Francis Hospital from others in the region.
It is always our goal to be able to offer patients care that is focused on their mind, body and spirit, while bringing them the latest advances in medicine, whether related to new technology for surgical treatment or new advances in medical therapy.
Provide a few customer/client testimonials that rightly exhibit your company’s expertise in the market.
(NAMES HAVE BEEN REDACTED DUE TO HIPAA COMPLIANCE)
“From the moment I was wheeled in, I was treated by the most caring, compassionate and attentive people that I have ever met…Your staff was not only concerned with my health needs, but my personal needs, my comfort, and my emotional state. There was not one person that I met that was not forthcoming with the most optimal care a patient could expect.”
“After spending eight days there, I only have admiration for everyone, from the doctors to housekeeping. Their knowledge, compassion, and attentiveness are incredible.”
“I cannot praise your staff enough. Everything was done with the best professionalism and expertise. My nurses and aides were beyond fabulous. They attended to all my needs and fears. It is the way healthcare should work. The love I received nurtured me better than all the medication in the world.”