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Piedmont Newton, a year later

A year after dignitaries stood outside of Newton Medical Center and watched as a tarp was pulled from the top of main entry way, the hospital has seen plenty of changes.

Since Newton Medical Center became Piedmont Newton Hospital on Oct. 1, 2015, changes implemented have included new staff, new record systems and more.

The most noticeable change has been the hospital moving up from a “D” to an “A” rating using Piedmont’s internal Leapfrog methodology. Piedmont Newton received its first “A” rating in May.

According to Piedmont Healthcare Communications Specialist Nicole Dillon the Leapfrog methodology rates safety, quality and customer service.

In the year since Piedmont entered into a 40-year lease with Newton Medical, the hospital has adopted the Piedmont Always Safe program, utilizing trained Safety Coaches in each department, implemented risk reporting software and has been doing “daily safety huddles” among the hospital’s leadership.

“We remain committed to providing the highest quality of care to our community and have been able to achieve some great things this past year since becoming a Piedmont facility,” said Jim Weadick, CEO of Piedmont Newton Hospital.
New to the hospital’s leadership team is the position of Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Norris Little was hired in this role in March.

The hospital has also implemented a new Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, called EPIC, allowing an easier exchange of healthcare information throughout all Piedmont Healthcare organizations.

Since Piedmont has taken over, Newton’s hospital has also seen a slight increase in deliveries and surgeries.

From the period of Oct. 2015 through September of this year, compared to that same time frame a year earlier, newborn deliveries have increased by 3 percent, the number of surgeries increased by 1.5 percent and inpatient admissions increased by 1.5 percent.

Throughout the last year, staff has also noticed changes both internally and throughout the community.

“It’s getting a lot better,” said Patricia Thompson of Piedmont Newton. “Changes are gradually coming, and there are a lot more resources. [Patients] are real excited about the change, and the community as a whole has been excited.”
The biggest change for the staff has been new software and larger financial backing, but the people mostly have remained the same.

Teresa Higginbottom, on the patient recovery team, and Harriet Griffeth, of patient financial services, both recently celebrated 43 years at the hospital.

“They’ve treated me wonderfully,” Griffeth said. “They’ve always been there for me.

As far as capital investments, Piedmont has upgraded and expanded network capability, installed a new wireless network, added a new backup power generator and increased security on the Newton campus.

Going forward, Dillon said, Piedmont Newton will expand its emergency department from 16 to 32 beds, and Piedmont Healthcare will contribute more than $4.5 million to the cost of the department’s expansion. Construction is expected to begin in January.

Piedmont Newton was officially introduced on Oct. 1, 2015, after a 15-month process of Newton Medical Center looking for an equity partner.

The Newton General Hospital Authority was created in February 1952 and the hospital was opened in 1954 with 36 beds. Newton Medical Center is now a 97-bed medical facility serving Covington and the surrounding areas.