Premium content from Houston Business Journal by Allison Wollam, Reporter
Date: Friday, March 30, 2012, 5:00am CDT
Related: Health Care
John Tressa, CEO of Park Plaza Hospital: ‘From my perspective, this population is often overlooked.’
While many health care organizations are turning away Medicare patients, Park Plaza Hospital CEO John Tressa believes his organization can become the leading destination for senior care in Houston by filling in the gap and focusing on such patients.
It’s a unique strategy in Houston, where many physicians have stopped accepting or limited the amount of Medicare patients due to cutbacks in Medicare funding over the past couple of years. But Park Plaza, and its partner, Baylor College of Medicine, have invested significant funds to target Houston’s aging population, many of whom use Medicare.
Park Plaza Hospital and Baylor will open the Park Plaza Senior Clinic May 1. The clinic, in the Park Plaza Medical Center, will offer a range of services from wellness visits to treating complex chronic medical conditions.
“From my perspective, this population is often overlooked,” said Tressa. “If you treat them effectively, efficiently and responsibly, you can still generate a margin. We hope to become the destination hospital for seniors in the area. That’s our goal.”
The new clinic is part of the hospital’s four-year strategic plan to better serve its aging population. More than half the patients who visit the hospital’s emergency room are over 65, said Tressa.
Park Plaza Hospital is the 21st-largest hospital in Houston, ranked by number of operating beds, according to the Houston Business Journal’s 2012 Book of Lists. It reported a 2010 operating budget of $9.3 million and is part of the Dallas-based Tenet Texas Healthcare network, the fifth- largest hospital system in Houston with 1,120 licensed beds.
Park Plaza partnered with Baylor College of Medicine to bring more expertise to the table. Baylor is known for providing some of the best geriatric care in the country, and Park Plaza has been working with the college since 2008 to address the needs of seniors, said Tressa. Baylor attending physicians and fellows will treat patients at the clinic.
When children visit a doctor, their parents are more likely to take them to a pediatrician because they’re specialized in that field, said Tressa. He’s using the same line of thinking with the senior clinic.
“It’s an evolution of our senior care and something we plan on going full-speed ahead with,” he said.
“We’ll also be able to minimize the length of hospital stays by treating them at an outpatient clinic.”
In 2010, Park Plaza opened a senior emergency department to meet the needs of a growing elderly demographic in the urban area. Park Plaza’s emergency unit also provides customized care for older adults, with patient rooms and services tailored specifically for seniors.
The popularity and success of the emergency department was a major reason the hospital chose to open an outpatient clinic catering to seniors, said Tressa.
Lance Lunsford, a spokesman with the Texas Hospital Association, said it makes sense for the local hospital to cater to the increasing number of Baby Boomers, even with the continued risk of Medicare reimbursement cuts.
“The Medicare population is obviously growing as Baby Boomers age, so hospitals are ensuring they are meeting the needs of this demographic,” he said. “Catering to a growing aging population is going to be an ongoing tactic for hospitals.”