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Published on September 19, 2008

Valley West Community Hospital Celebrates 10th Anniversary with KishHealth System

September 19, 2008

Valley West Community Hospital celebrated its 10th anniversary as part of the KishHealth System on Sept. 11, 2008.

The health system has been serving DeKalb County since 1976, when Kishwaukee Community Hospital opened in DeKalb. Today the health system employs nearly 1,300 people and serves a population of more than 120,000 people in 18 facilities in Sandwich, Yorkville, DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa and Hampshire.

Back in the late 1990s, the leaders of the Sandwich hospital board explored several options for keeping the struggling community hospital open, said Don Kieso, Lake Holiday.

“We felt then that KishHealth System was the best fit and that decision has been proven right many times over the past 10 years,” Kieso said. Kieso has served on the KishHealth System Board of Directors since 2002, when the KCH and VWCH hospital boards merged into one. 

On September, 11, 1998, the then 75-year-old community hospital became part of KishHealth System, opening as Valley West Community Hospital with no disruption to patient services. Soon after, the health system invested more than $15 million in upgrades, technology enhancements and building expansion.

In 2002, Valley West opened a 38,000-square-foot addition expanding and upgrading the Emergency Department, Surgical and Operating Suites, Diagnostic Imaging, and Maternity Suites. The new front lobby atrium on the north side of the hospital, as well as the Gift Shop and Chapel were also part of the new addition. 

Another milestone was reached in 2004, when Valley West, a 25-bed hospital, became accredited by the Joint Commission for the first time in its recent history. Joint Commission accreditation tells the public the hospital adheres to nationally-recognized standards in patient safety and patient care quality. 

In addition to facility upgrades, Valley West, with financial support from KishHealthSystem, invested in the community’s healthcare by recruiting a number of primary care physicians and specialists, who opened private practices in Sandwich, Somonauk, Plano and Yorkville.

“These efforts have made it easier for our residents to stay in the community for both their medical care and hospital care,” said Brad Copple, VWCH administrator. Copple also serves as administrator of Kishwaukee Community Hospital.

“Management integration allowed us to realize many synergies and economies of scale that have helped Valley West go from a struggling hospital to a hospital that is vibrant and strong and expanding the scope and breadth of services and programs that we offer to the ever-growing community,” said Kevin Poorten, KishHealth System President and CEO. 

The Valley West medical staff now includes specialists in Allergy & Immunology, Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Oncology, Otolaryngology, Podiatry, Pulmonology, Radiology, Sleep Medicine and Urology. 

“This depth of specialists did not exist 10 years ago,” said Mike Muzzillo, Assistant Administrator.

“Having worked in the Sandwich hospital for nearly 40 years, I have a great vantage point,” Muzzillo said. “I experienced challenging times and have since been very proud of the incredible turnaround over the past 10 years.

“The community may not realize how close it came to losing its hospital in the 1990s. KishHealth System, our loyal employees, both long term and new, and donors who never lost faith, kept us alive and now we are thriving,” he said.
A testament to the improvements at Valley West is the high level of patient satisfaction. 

“Our patient satisfaction results, as determined by Press Ganey, an independent survey company, have consistently been in the 90th percentile when compared to a national database,” Copple said. “That means Valley West ranks in the Top 10 percent nationally for patient satisfaction.” 

“We also are very proud to have received the Fire Starter Award from The Studer Group, which recognized the teamwork among our employees’ that resulted in outstanding accomplishments in service, operational and clinical excellence,” he said. The Studer Group is a national firm specializing in healthcare service excellence.

Other accomplishments at the hospital and on the Sandwich campus include:

  • Designation by the state in 2004, as a Critical Access Hospital, serving rural communities.
  • A second $6.5 million building expansion, which will open the fall of 2008, providing more operating rooms, days surgery bays, recovery suites, maternity suites, and Emergency Department treatment rooms;
  • Opening of a $7 million, 12,000-square-foot Medical Office Building on the campus in March 2008, housing doctor offices and hospital services, including Cardiac Rehab, Pain Management Clinic, Diabetes Education Center, the Karen Bohr Sepaniak Community Room, and soon outpatient dialysis.
  • Investment in new technology. This past year alone, the hospital added digital mammography and stereotactic breast biopsy equipment, a rapid analyzer for community-acquired MRSA, computer systems and equipment for more advanced cardiac monitoring and state-of-art monitoring of maternity patients;
  • Adding a Community Wellness Department in fiscal year 2008 which reached more than 4,000 individuals through classes, free and low-cost health screenings, including the new Heartwise Cardiac Risk Assessment, and outreach to the schools and other organizations;
  • Establishing a Diabetes Education Center;
  • Becoming an associate hospital within the Kishwaukee Emergency Medical Services System in 2005, which provides a higher level of training and oversight for area ambulance providers, and a higher level of disaster preparedness;   
  • Investing nearly $10 million in community benefit which includes charity care, unreimbursed care for Medicaid and Medicare patients, education, volunteer services, and donations and in-kind services to community organizations.

In addition, KishHealth System expanded into the Yorkville area with the opening of a medical arts building and Yorkville Imaging Institute on Countryside Parkway in 2006.

Other KishHealth System entities include DeKalb County Hospice, DeKalb MRIImaging Institute, Hauser-Ross Eye Institute & Surgicenter, Hauser-Ross Optical, Illinois Regional Cancer Center, KishHealth Family & Specialty Care in Genoa and Shabbona,  Kishwaukee Cancer Care Center, Kishwaukee Health Foundation, Unlimited Performance Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine in Sycamore, Genoa and Hampshire; and Kishwaukee Corporate Health.

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