Our Thoughts: Piedmont making strides for better care

In one of his first public appearances as the Piedmont Newton CEO, Dr. Eric Bour said everything Newton County needed to hear.

Leading the hospital is always one of the most important jobs in a community like this, and there’s bound to be particular interest in this case.

Bour succeeds longtime CEO Jim Weadick, and he’s leading a hospital that’s seen some changes in recent years with Piedmont Healthcare coming on board two years ago as the parent company.

That’s brought new resources to local health care, with the strength of an industry leader in the region able to flex muscles never before seen in Newton County.

Bour’s job is to take the hospital to the next level, and we’re convinced he is the man to do it.

He told Kiwanians job No. 1 is to improve patient satisfaction.

“Our patient satisfaction: We’re working on it … and that’s what my focus is going to be,” he said.

Bour’s previous medical center, Hillcrest Memorial Hospital in South Carolina, saw a 40 percent improvement in patient satisfaction. He was honest Thursday: Piedmont Newton scores still need improvement, but they’re getting better.

One major step to improve the scores is a renovation of the emergency department. The project will take 18 months but will double the capacity of what most people still call the ER.

He touched on the need to bring urgent care service to Newton County. That will allow some patients who are now going to the emergency department to get better, quicker and more affordable care that also frees up doctors and nurses for people who need them fast.

Piedmont also will try to provide options for local businesses who want to get their employees back to work as soon as possible.

One unique way the hospital will be reaching out to the community is Newton County’s first drive-thru flu shot clinic. On Oct. 18, citizens will have the chance to come get a free flu shot without even getting out of the car.

We understand no small hospital — or even large one — is perfect. In any small town like this one, the hospital will have its detractors. But the hospital is a key element to making our community better. No one wants to have to drive into the city for basic health care, and in fact Piedmont’s recent acquisition of Rockdale Medical Center will provide even greater efficiencies for local patients.

“It’s a whole lot better to have a friend 13 miles away than an enemy 13 miles away,” Bour said.

As Bour and Piedmont continue their work at the local hospital, we hope citizens will give them a chance to prove quality health care doesn’t have to be an hour’s drive away. Covington and Newton County will be better off if they are successful.

Our Thoughts is the view of The Covington News’ editorial board, which includes Editor and Publisher David Clemons and News Editor Jackie Gutknecht.