PMC Chairman Herman Cole and PMC President/CEO George Mikitarian

Founded in 1958 as North Brevard Hospital, PMC expanded its original multi-story “tower” facility in 1964, 1981 and 1991. But the biggest change began in 2000 with the construction of an $80 million, 371,000 square-foot replacement hospital just north of the old hospital campus. When the new hospital building opened in 2002, the old “tower’’ was demolished and a new era of health care began for north Brevard residents.

Parrish leaders say now that the unique architectural design – curved glass with a massive central atrium – has made a huge difference in helping the public understand that the hospital had changed its emphasis. The new design shows the more patient-centered philosophy, said PMC Board of Directors Chairman Herman Cole, a former architect retired from a 26-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

“I bring people in here all the time, because I’m very proud of this facility. It does not have an atmosphere of a hospital because of the atrium. To think we have a facility like this in a town the size that we are is amazing. For us, as a recruiting tool, we bring them to this hospital and let them see what we have here, and in Port St. John, to recruit quality doctors,” Cole said.

No. 1 Healing Hospital

PMC President/CEO George Mikitarian explained that the board “took a chance on the design because we searched for a design that complemented what we wanted to be – more patient-oriented and family-focused.”

There have been positive results so far, with Parrish being named the No. 1 healing hospital by the Baptist Healing Trust for three years in a row. Now, PMC is part of ongoing research to see just how much those design principles contribute to healing, Mikitarian said.

“The old tower configuration was easier for hospital staff because they only had to use central elevators to get from floor to floor. The new design requires staff to walk more to separate tasks, such as meal carts, to give the patient the best possible experience,” Mikitarian explained. “In the past, most hospitals were designed specifically for people that work in the hospital. This hospital is designed for the people who come to the hospital. That’s a major difference,” Cole added.

The past year has been excellent for Parrish Medical Center – ranked in the top 6 percent in the nation, 187th in the country,
no. 1 in Central Florida, and the only A-rated safety hospital in Brevard County. “We’re proud that the journey we’re on has finally resulted in things that the public is now seeing from other sources besides us,” Mikitarian said.

Changes Under ACA

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will require all hospitals, including Parrish, to react to provisions of health care reform. The difference is that Parrish is already on track if not ahead of the pack, according to Cole.

Those rankings are very important in the ACA because “the emphasis is on safety, quality and cost. When the ACA came up with the kinds of things we had to abide by, we were already doing a lot of those things. We’ve talked to a lot of other hospitals and they’re just starting. They walk around with their heads in the sand thinking this thing is not going to come to fruition. We’ve been out front, trying to reduce our costs and we’re no. 1 in safety, quality, and customer satisfaction,” Cole said.

Mikitarian believes hospitals are at a crossroads in relation to the ACA, causing administrators to make some difficult choices, sometimes before they want to. “Do you continue to stick your head in the sand? There are countless hospitals that are still doing that, hoping something’s going to overturn the ACA and the Supreme Court is going to wake up one day to say they made the wrong decision. Meanwhile, there are hospitals like us that have been getting ready for it since 2010,” Mikitarian said.

“We just read the tea leaves because they were all in front of us. We’ve passed the fork in the road and we’re headed to being incredibly equipped to respond, not just to the ACA, but doing what our community needs – having more out-patient locations to make health care more accessible to them; providing that health care at a lower cost,” he said.

Mikitarian continued, “ACA gives us some structure, some milestones to shoot for, but it’s a complement with what we’ve been doing. We’re kind of excited about it because it’s showing everybody what we’ve been doing. Because we’ve been doing it slowly but surely, piece-by-piece in baby steps over the last 10 years, we’re excited as heck. We don’t wake up any day nervous or afraid of what’s ahead of us, because we’ve been creating what’s ahead of us.”

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

One of the key philosophies from the early days of the hospital is still very much in place: make improvements, become more efficient, but remember who you serve, Mikitarian explained. “It’s a constant pursuit that’s now embedded in the culture. Our adoption of process improvement tools and techniques constantly forces us to look for improvement,” he said. Concluding, the PMC success “is knowing who we are. We are a high quality, low-cost, very successful community-based hospital. Our job is to take care of people in our community and to always look out on their behalf.”

“Those themes originated many years ago by former hospital boards and have been translated by current PMC leaders for the future. The thought is to be a great community hospital. But if you can’t pass the muster of the toughest critics you’ll ever have – the people in your own community – then don’t try to convince people you’re something you’re not,” Mikitarian said.

Added Cole, “We realize where we are. We know we’re a community hospital, but we’re going to be the best damn community in the U.S if we can.”

The next step for PMC is to complete the transition to electronic medical records. “We’re already 187th in the country, and we see ourselves getting into the 60 to 70 range just because of the little incremental differences that electronic medical records will give us,” Mikitarian said. “People get irritated with me as I travel around the country. They ask me, ‘How did you know to do that?’ I tell them you just read the tea leaves, understand where health care has to go and then do something,” he said.

“We’re doing this voluntarily before it becomes mandatory,” Cole said. Mikitarian added, it’s his job to figure out “what the rules of the game are and then to react to them in the most efficient way through policy changes. PMC’s strategy is called a ‘game plan.’ And once you figure out the rules of the game, become really good at the game,” concluded Mikitarian.