Centra Scripts: Intro

Pop art colored drawing of a man in white coat writing on clipboard near a microphone

Show Transcript

Kate Kolb: (00:07)
Thanks for joining us for this episode of Centra scripts where we talk health and wellness and practical tips for your everyday life. And now here’s your host Kate Kolb. Well, once again, thank you for joining us on Centra scripts. We are so excited about this new platform and just really excited to get some good healthcare content out to our community and our neighbors and our friends and be able to talk about some important things going on in the healthcare community and things that will be pertinent to the health of people in, in our area. And I’m here with Chris Thomson today, Dr. Chris Thomson with Centra. And can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and kind of what you do here at Centra?

Dr. Thomson: (00:46)
Sure. Kate, thank you. My name is Chris Thomson. I’m the Chief Medical Officer here at Centra. I have been, I’m an emergency physician by training. I still like to call myself that although the number of patients that I’ve seen recently is very low. Really for the past 10 years, I’ve been increasingly in leadership, first in the emergency department and emergency services as Centra grew. Uh, and then ultimately as, as Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, and in that role I’m really responsible for quality, safety, really kind of anything that happens from a clinical care standpoint really within the health system.

Kate Kolb: (01:24)
Okay. Yeah. Very cool. Well, we’re really excited about this particular platform in general. This is something that Centra has not done before and to have a podcast. And so we’re just excited to see kind of where it goes from here and to open that conversation with our community. Let’s talk a little bit just a brief history about Centra because as much as we would like to think that everybody knows about us, there might be some people that don’t really know a whole lot of our history. Can you expound on a little bit of our background?

Dr. Thomson: (01:51)
Yeah, sure, sure. And although I wasn’t around for a lot of the beginning of Centra, I certainly know the history well. And one of the wonderful things about this community, too, is just the fact that it is so enduring and people come here to stay. People who’ve come to really Lynchburg and Central Virginia want to be here. Even just this past weekend, I was able to see, you know, physicians that when I first came here, um, we’re really legendary and they’re still around. And it’s really neat to see that history continued to persist. But Centra really came together with the union of Virginia Baptist Hospital and Lynchburg General Hospital about 30 years ago. And so these were two hospitals obviously in a town, uh, that was not an urban metropolis that, and, um, I think it was even known at that time that perhaps rather than duplicating efforts or even worse competing against each other, they, uh, thought was, Hey, let’s combine and become a single, uh, system that ultimately became central health.

Dr. Thomson: (02:51)
And although looking back, you know, things in the world today of consolidation and that may have had seemed an obvious path back then, it was a really significant sort of process and decision. So that was really the origin of Centra. And since that time, certainly, you know, Centra has responded to the winds of healthcare at large and the environment in many ways I think most recently has really grown to be a health system that continues to serve a really large geographic area. When we talk about a 9,000 square mile area that Centra serves, you know, we’re really talking about a significant area that is at times very rural and so, you know, pockets of patients that may be far away, we’re able to really reach and improve wellness. Um, perhaps most recently and notable for Centra is its rapid expansion in size over the past I think five or six years. Um, you know, Centra really went from, um, a health system, um, and again sort of measure sizes by top line revenue of health systems, but we would have said it was a $600 million or so healthcare system, um, that within about six years became a one-point, close to a $1.4 billion healthcare system. Um, and in that really grew and expansion size. And uh, so that’s been the most recent, I think really significant change that size and in a way still try to catch up to that size and still trying to make sure that we serve that entire geographic area successful.

Kate Kolb: (04:27)
Yeah. And talking about the geographic area, so we talked a little bit about Lynchburg and the central Virginia area and that expands out to, we now have practices and facilities in Gretna. We started Farmville, that area to Bedford. So you’re talking about a very large footprint of people in this area and the surrounding areas as well. And we definitely count a huge privilege to be able to share our services with those communities and our lives, frankly, because we, the participants in our services here, the people that, that serve are, are living in this area too. So that’s, that’s kind of our heartbeat behind that, I think a little bit.

Dr. Thomson: (05:08)
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, it’s been great to see. I think when you provide good care, patients have a good experience, they will travel to get that experience. I think that we’ve seen that with Centra and it’s really been great. And you mentioned Gretna, um, you know, even down in the Danville area, we certainly have patients coming our way, as well, collaborate very closely and have a close relationship with the Danville Medical System and even in Danville Regional Hospital. And I think it’s important to have that collaborative effort and spirit with all of our surrounding partners that are also providing health care. And the one Kate interesting fact, um, is, you know, so we’ve, we talk about that as our footprint. Um, you know, if you even add to that, the fact that Rivermont schools, which are a Centra, um, you know, a Centra entity in 14 schools really around the state of Virginia to Northern Virginia to the far reaches of the Eastern shore to Roanoke to chase city. You know, it’s amazing. So the scope even goes beyond that contiguous area of central Virginia that we talk about commonly.

Kate Kolb: (06:10)
Yeah. Which is amazing. And I think just continues to be an encouragement to what the communities have to offer and, and kind of where our heartbeat falls into that too. So I want to talk a little bit today about kind of moving forward with this podcast platform and the things that we want to sort of educate our community about. Why is it important or maybe, you know, even beyond that this education and wellness platform, why is that important to us as an organization and kind of what do we want to do with that going forward?

Dr. Thomson: (06:41)
Yeah, sure. I’ll tackle that question in two different directions. And I think one is just the importance of um, promoting wellness, um, an education. Um, you know, I think that over the past now, I’ll say several years and I think the beginning of it was probably a bit fuzzy in terms of when we really came to this recognition. But you know, our health system traditionally, um, really after world war II, so we’re going back a ways is, you know, has been built on a system of really reacting to illness and reacting to disease. And, and doing our best to treat disease once it’s identified. And thankfully what’s really been recognized is that, that with that our, our nation’s healthcare system has become expensive and it hasn’t had the outcomes that you know, many other countries have had. Um, and really the, the global environment of healthcare has had.

Dr. Thomson: (07:31)
And so that transition of reacting to disease, to truly proactively promoting wellness in many different ways has thankfully become the focus of healthcare and wellness can be defined in so many ways, not only physical wellness or what we would traditionally defined as medical wellness, uh, but also really reacting to those social determinants of health. We recognize that education and housing and you know, food and what sort of access you have to those very important social determines of health is tremendously important. And being able to communicate about those things I think is, has gladly shifted the focus of healthcare, um, in those directions. Um, I said I’d have two points. So the second point is just the format that, that you’ve created, which I think is fantastic. I think, you know, we’re so busy and people work days and nights and there’s emails and there’s different forms of communication that, you know, it’s hard to really get information to people. And I think that podcasts are great ways people can, you know, listen to them in their cars and they can do other things and still take in information. So thank you for, for, uh, you know, bringing this forum to us.

Kate Kolb: (08:40)
Yeah, absolutely. And I think we’re, we’re just excited to see kind of where this goes and get it up off the ground, but then to also just continue to have an open dialogue with, with our patients and with the communities surrounding us and to really have conversations about that concept of wellness that you were talking about. I think, kind of like you said, it’s become a buzzword in a lot of ways for a lot of people, but what does that mean when you are a large healthcare system? How do you react and interact with that? So excited to see where this goes forward from here. For sure. And I think, you know, I just want to talk a little bit too about who you’re going to hear on the podcasts going forward. We have a wealth of subject matter experts here underneath our own roof and these facilities within our Centra system. And so, you know, do you want to expound just a little bit on, on the caliber of people that we have?

Dr. Thomson: (09:34)
Yeah. Um, I definitely do and I wanted, I’ll do so from a, you know, a formal standpoint but also a personal standpoint. I think I came here and I know that my experience was no different than many of the physicians and advanced practice professionals and truly all the caregivers that we have here in the community. I think sometimes you come to an area and you kind of get a feel for what the quality of healthcare is. And what I would just like to, you know, really, you know, convey, and again, many will feel this personally and very viscerally, is that when you come to this area, one of the first things that you recognize is the true quality of the caregivers that we have with physicians. To advanced practice professionals, to nurses, to really, all of the individuals, I’m going to leave a lot of folks out just for time purposes, but people come here because they want to be here and people come here not because they want to come and punch a clock, but because they not only know that they will see their patients in the grocery store or in restaurants, but actually relish that ability to kind of combine your professional and your personal life.

Dr. Thomson: (10:37)
And so I, you know, I think for what some would consider, again, not an urban area with a population of 1.5 or 2 million individuals, one that’s growing modestly but steadily. I think the quality of health care, the dedication of the caregivers that we have here is absolutely second to none. However you want to measure that. Whether it is from an academic pedigree standpoint, um, and, uh, you know, an academic standpoint, um, to a procedural skill standpoint, to just an interactive skill standpoint in terms of being able to put people at ease and communicate with people. So it’s a phenomenal company.

Kate Kolb: (11:15)
Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree. I have been at Centra now for just over four years. And I think that my interactions with just people from all over the organization have been fantastic and there’s been so many relationships that have been built. And I just love being able to walk in to the different service areas that we have and just see that passion for what they do come forward. And there are hard days for sure. And there are long days for sure. And I mean just like anywhere else there are, there are issues that we are working through and that sort of thing. But I think at the end of the day, the people that I get to interact with on a marketing side, um, it’s just exciting for me to see that passion and that heart for what they do. And I think just like you just said, it pours out into everything that they do.

Kate Kolb: (11:58)
And it reflects really the, the warmth and the feel of the community around us. And this is, this is home, you know, two people here that are serving, but it’s also Centra is home to many of those people as well. Yeah. So we um, going forward in this podcast, we’re going to talk a lot over the coming months just about some of those wellness topics and kind of some of those practical ways to implement some of those things in our lives as we go forward. And so you’ll hear a little bit of everything from, um, from all around our organization. And I don’t want to tease too much cause I don’t want to give too much of the content away cause we want to keep you coming back for more. But I think to wrap this session up, sort of our, our intro session here, what would you say at the end of the day, Dr. Thomson, is, is our goal for this community as, as a partner?

Dr. Thomson: (12:50)
Yeah. Um, that’s a great question. Um, and I think there is a, a goal that has been defined as a little bit of a singular goal. And I’m going to actually credit Andy Muller, our new CEO for helping verbalize this. But it’s what we all have felt. You know, he is stated and again I’m going to sort of paraphrase him a little bit, but he, he has stated that if in two to three to five years that by all measures, um, we have not in our community seen a demonstrable increase in health and wellness and I’m going to use that term broadly because that can mean happiness and it could mean you know, access to all those social determinants that we talked about. If we have not demonstrated an appreciable increase in that, then we will not have fulfilled what we believe is our complete mission as a healthcare system and an offer profit healthcare system in this community. So that’s our goal, health and wellness for this entire area that we have the privilege to serve.

Kate Kolb: (13:49)
Great. I love that. And I love just kind of wrapping back around to what you said in the beginning where historically I think health systems have been much more concerned about the reactionary health value to things. I love that in this new generation of medicine and healthcare that things are moving so proactively towards, we just want to get you on a wellness path. And this needs to be the direction that we’re going. And so that excites me as somebody that grew up in healthcare. My father is a provider as well. And, and now being in it on this side of the coin as well from the business and marketing side, um, that excites me as a member of the community to know that Centra has that footprint and then also has that projection for what they want to see. So very exciting.

Dr. Thomson: (14:33)
Thanks Kate. Yeah, we all uh, you know, many providers are people that are ultimately on this side are, were, were patients as well. So that’s the other part of this is um, we are, many of us are on both sides of the coin. Yeah, for sure.

Kate Kolb: (14:45)
For sure. Well thank you very much Dr. Thomson for doing this little intro with me today. It’s been a pleasure to be here with you and talk to you about this and I don’t know, we may have to pull you in for some more episodes. Thanks for doing this and just really appreciate you having me here today. Well guys, thanks so much for tuning in and you’re going to want to stay tuned in because our next episode, our launch episode, the official one coming in January, is going to be covering the flu and all of those topics surrounding that. And we’ve got lots of good information for you coming. So stay tuned to Centra scripts.

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