Neurologist Makes History as First Physician to Lead Danbury Hospital
New era focuses on regionalization of health care delivery system
As a longtime community physician who has always put the needs of patients first, John Murphy, MD, never imagined he would make history as the first physician to serve as president and chief executive officer of Danbury Hospital.
Turns out it’s the perfect spot for a physician who has played an integral role in the organization’s transformation from a community hospital to a regional medical facility with a national reputation for clinical excellence, patient safety and customer service.
“I’m still committed to serving patients, but I’m doing it in a broader context by working to provide high quality medical care to the entire community,” said Dr. Murphy, who assumed the new post on July 1, 2010.
Among his many goals, Dr. Murphy intends to support Danbury Hospital’s evolution to a regional institution by “pushing the intellectual frontiers” through research and medical education efforts that will set the hospital apart from others on a state and national level.
“Our mission is to advance the health and well-being of the community in partnership with those who we serve,” he said. “It’s the driving force behind everything we do.”
Innate leader brings special skills
“As a community physician who has held numerous leadership positions at the hospital, Dr. Murphy brings a unique set of skills and experiences to his new role as president and chief executive officer,” said John Martocci, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Dr. Murphy has the vision and the passion needed to guide the organization through the many challenges that lie ahead without ever compromising the high level of care that patients and the community have come to expect from Danbury Hospital.”
Hospital faces important crossroads
Dr. Murphy is taking the helm at a historic time for the organization. Danbury Hospital recently announced plans to establish a regional health care system by affiliating with New Milford Hospital. Next spring, the hospital hopes to break ground on its largest construction project ever – a proposed tower that will offer patients state-of-the-art care in a more private, family-friendly setting. This spring, the Danbury Hospital Biomedical Research Center opened with a team of internationally renowned cancer researchers. Meantime, the hospital’s medical education program expanded with the addition of a new surgical residency program.
“The accomplishments over the past year demonstrate the enormous competencies of the individuals who work here,” said Dr. Murphy. “They are talented, hard working professionals.”
A long history of service to the community
A board-certified neurologist, Dr. Murphy assumes his new post after years of serving Danbury Hospital in a number of capacities, including two decades on the medical staff, three years as President of the Medical Staff and 15 years on the board of directors. He was chairman of the board for four years before joining the hospital administration a year and a half ago as executive vice president and chief executive officer designee.
Dr. Murphy said he feels “privileged” to have the board’s “vote of confidence” to lead the organization in today’s volatile health care arena.
“This is unique time in the history of American medicine,” he said. “We have a confluence of information about the human genome at the same time that we see a growing emphasis on managing the health of the population thanks, in part, to advances in information technology. This will enable us to provide more personalized medical care in the future. Meantime the economic rules governing the practice of medicine are being re-written with the passage of health care reform. It’s an exciting and challenging time to be in the field.”
He also considers himself “fortunate to follow in the footsteps” of his predecessor, Frank Kelly, who was “extremely successful in not only elevating the quality of care, but in assuring our financial viability. Our financial strength allows us to take advantage of opportunities, including the regionalization of health care through our affiliation with New Milford Hospital.”
A new chapter with formidable challenges begins
While it’s impossible to predict the future, Dr. Murphy recently shared his perspectives on the challenges that lie ahead as Danbury Hospital continues to set the standard for excellence.
Like many institutions across the nation, Danbury Hospital will face increased pressure to offer high quality, sophisticated medical care to patients in a comforting environment as efficiently as possible following passage of health care reform.
“Hospitals, physicians and other providers will lose hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue under the new changes to nation’s health care system. Simply put, federal reimbursements will not fully cover the costs of many of the medical services we provide,” explained Dr. Murphy. “As a result, we must find ways to provide high quality care while reducing costs. This is a challenge that will require the close partnership of the medical staff, management team and the community.” Medicare’s transformation from a “passive payer of medical services to an active purchaser of high quality medical care” means health care institutions will also need to document performance and outcomes in a transparent manner for public review.
Danbury Hospital’s continued investment in biomedical research and medical education will facilitate the organization’s evolution to a regional medical facility.
“Our commitment to research and medical education reflects Danbury Hospital’s desire to do better on all fronts. There are still patients on every floor of this hospital who are battling diseases for which present therapy is inadequate. Our new biomedical research facility allows researchers to perform groundbreaking work in understanding the molecular mechanisms of disease. The goal is to find tomorrow’s cures and make them available today,” he said.
“We want to push the frontiers of knowledge and actively contribute to discoveries that will not only deliver better care to our patients, but will also attract talented individuals to work and stay at Danbury Hospital,” he said.
“The hospital’s investment in research and medical education directly benefits the community by providing an intellectually stimulating environment to train the physicians and nurses of tomorrow.”
Information technology, including the creation of an electronic medical record, is central to providing high-quality, safe patient care in the most efficient and economic way possible.
“The hospital has launched HealthLink, an ambitious $10 million initiative over the next several years to provide the information technology infrastructure that will allow both hospital-based physicians and community physicians as well as other medical care providers to share information in a secure environment,” said Dr. Murphy.
“One of the keys to offering high-quality, safe care is providing physicians and other clinicians access to critical information wherever and whenever they need it. For instance, we can check the virtual health record when a patient comes to the Emergency Department and immediately know about medical issues, such as allergies, that could impact treatment. We also have access to all the tests the patient has undergone so we don’t duplicate procedures. This information allows us to enhance the quality of care patients receive while reducing costs.”
Philanthropic support from the community will become even more vital in the years to come as Danbury Hospital strives to meet the increasing demand for high-quality medical care in the wake of dwindling reimbursements from the federal government and other sources.
“We are extremely grateful for the community support we have received throughout the years, dating back to the group of concerned citizens who established Danbury Hospital 125 years ago. This hospital belongs to the community and we have been ever mindful to serve as good stewards of these resources,” said Dr. Murphy.
“Our generous donors have allowed Danbury Hospital to make important investments in programs, people and technologies so we can provide high quality care no matter what the prevailing economic circumstances. The community’s desire to have access to sophisticated, high-quality care close to home has led the hospital to create of centers of excellence that have achieved national recognition. Residents no longer need to travel to receive a higher level of medical care.”
No matter what the economic climate, Danbury Hospital will never shirk its responsibilities to provide community benefit programs.
At a time when hospitals across Connecticut and the nation are scaling back, Danbury Hospital has intensified its efforts to serve the community by providing more than $60 million in health resources to assist people who have inadequate health insurance or none at all. “The hospital has always been the community’s safety net,” explained Dr. Murphy. “We provide access to high quality medical care to all people without regard for their ability to pay.” Danbury Hospital’s community benefit investment takes on many facets from the Seifert & Ford Family Community Health Center to charity care for those who lack financial resources.
Staying connected to patients
For Murphy, one of the favorite parts of his new job involves treating patients at the neurology clinic held at the Seifert & Ford Family Community Health Center once a month. “It’s a real treat for me to leave the desk, put on the white coat and work at the clinic. I enjoy interacting with patients and the intellectual problem solving involved in helping patients resolve their neurological issues.” He also enjoys sharing his perspectives with medical students beginning their careers.
“The medical field is an evolving and complex profession,” he said. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to make a contribution as president and chief executive officer of Danbury Hospital.”
About Danbury Hospital
Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. The hospital provides centers of excellence in cardiovascular services, cancer, weight loss surgery, orthopedics, digestive disorders, radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve on the faculty of the nation’s finest medical centers offering a higher level of experience. Danbury Hospital is recognized by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement program (NSQIP) as one of 25 ACE NSQIP participating hospitals in the United States to achieve exemplary outcomes for surgical patient care.