Unrivaled Care Quality at a Non-Profit Health System

April 30, 2015

Allow me to tell you a tale of 2 health care systems, 1 for-profit and 1 non-profit.

Allow me to tell you a tale of 2 health care systems, 1 for-profit and 1 non-profit.

My wife had exploratory laparoscopic pelvic surgery at the for-profit in December, during which the physician just looked around and closed her up because the required surgery was outside of the scope of expertise. While highly skilled, the physician just didn’t have the right equipment or specialized training to do the job correctly.

Only a handful of doctors used robotic surgery, and none of them used it to perform the delicate operations my wife needed. The costs for training and maintaining the equipment on a broader scale probably just don’t line up, putting too much of a hit on the for-profit health system’s bottom line. However, its pre- and postoperative nursing was spectacular.

For my wife’s corrective procedures, we sought out an expert in excision and robotic surgery—the capable hands of Gerald Harkins, MD. Jerry, as he prefers to be called, pilots a da Vinci robot with the delicate touch of Van Cliburn playing a Chopin Étude.

He is the division chief of the Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Program at the one-and-only Penn State Hershey Medical Center (PSHMC), a non-profit. Without a doubt, Jerry is one of the best surgeons for such operations in the country, if not the planet.

My wife has an absolute crush on the man. Frankly, she’s not the only one. For all of his impressive credibility, he doesn’t have anything resembling the slightest air about him. If you looked up “humble” in the dictionary, you’d see Jerry’s picture.

My wife had a 2-hour surgery with multiple procedures, about 3 hours of recovery, and an overnight stay. Any time she needed something and pressed the call button, a nurse immediately entered the room and provided anything within her scope of practice. My wife still talks about the level of care, and her surgery was almost 2 months ago.

Of course, PSHMC was more expensive than the local hospital, as she had much more work done and required more care. That extra $40 almost broke us.

My wife and I went back for a postoperative appointment and to set up a payment plan for the balance. In the billing office, there was a sign that said “customer service.” I was flabbergasted that patrons were not referred to as patients.

PSHMC has the Disney service model down pat. Are they making money? Sure, but they are putting it more into research and less into $2000 suit pockets, and it shows.

If I need anything drastic done to my body as I journey through middle age, and hopefully into my Golden Years, I’ll be making the 150-mile trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where PSHMC is unrivaled in its level of care.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, is thankful for Milton Hersheys vision of health care.