'Keep care local': OhioHealth has spent $265 million in the region over the last 10 years

Mansfield News Journal

OhioHealth has invested $265 million in the past decade to better care for its 350,000 patients in North Central Ohio, and plans to spend more.

That strategic capital outlay averaging $26.5 million per year only includes projects greater than $1 million, according to Curt Gingrich, the board certified family physician who serves as president of the OhioHealth hospitals in both Mansfield and Shelby.

The nonprofit health system spends another $4 million to $8 million annually on maintenance and smaller purchases throughout the region.

"The way we think about the dollars that we want to invest, our understanding of what the community needs and lining up with what our main philosophy and focus is, which is keeping care local," Gingrich said. "We look for ways in which we can do that and do it effectively to really be able to provide the highest quality care and allow people to not have to travel outside of being close to home."

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'The third-largest hospital in the system'

OhioHealth serves 50 of the state's 88 counties. The facilities under Gingrich's purview offer medical care in six counties: Richland, Ashland, Crawford, Holmes, Huron and Knox.

"In that that six-county area, we say there's about 350,000 people that we are looking to try to find ways to improve their health," Gingrich said. "We draw from even more than those six counties, but it's what we think about our care and primary focus when we're trying to develop programs."

Curt Gingrich is a board-certified family physician serving as president of both OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital and OhioHealth Shelby Hospital.

Each year, the Mansfield and Shelby hospitals see about 60,000 emergency room visits, 16,000 hospitalizations, 7,500 surgeries and 850 deliveries, according to data compiled by the OhioHealth finance team.

"Strategically, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital is the third-largest hospital in the system," Gingrich said. "Riverside is the largest, Grant Medical Center is second, and we're third here in Mansfield, so we think about our care as being more complex and specialized than some of the other hospitals in OhioHealth."

The healthcare system locally employs nearly 2,800 people to care for those patients.

"We are the largest employer in the area," Gingrich said.

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'The only accredited trauma program within 65 miles'

One of the health system's more visible strategic projects was the 2022 completion of a $2.3 million rooftop helipad atop OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital.

"We're the only accredited trauma program within 65 miles," Gingrich said.

That helipad was only part of an extensive OhioHealth effort to expand trauma care in the region. The other nearest level-2 trauma facilities are at least a half-hour away by helicopter in Cleveland, Columbus and Akron, which means an inbound flight to Mansfield could be lifesaving to many.

A $2.3 million rooftop helipad atop OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital was completed in 2022.

"No one ever plans to have a trauma," Gingrich said. "But when they do have a work-related injury, or a car accident, or some other injury... this is the place that you can come."

Trauma care is a resource not just for OhioHealth patients but anyone who is in North Central Ohio when they find themselves in a critical medical situation.

"Over those last 10 years, building programs that can keep care local has been a key part of what we've done," Gingrich said. "There's very few of those things that we can't do here."

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'The place to come and have that enhanced safety'

Women's health has been another of the health system's areas of focus, especially in the field of obstetrics.

"We know in our communities that women are getting older when they have children, and with that comes a higher risk of of complications," Gingrich said.

Gingrich began his career in rural Indiana and remembers vividly how critical it can be to provide care for expecting mother, no matter the time of day.

A labor and delivery operating room at OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital.

"If I was at home, I was about four miles away (from the hospital), Gingrich said. "I would come in in the middle of night if there was a delivery."

OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital now has both an obstetrician and a pediatric hospitalist present around the clock to handle births as well as pregnancy complications.

These days, Gingrich said, mothers are more likely to experience high blood pressure, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

"The age of when women are having babies is going up, so those things start to increase in incidents and that creates some of those complications," Gingrich said. "So we've we wanted to create a program that this could be the place to come and have that enhanced safety."

'We’re looking at where there are gaps'

Other local strategic improvements have enhanced heart care, stroke treatments and vascular medicine.

For many patients, cardiovascular health begins with screenings and education.

"We have some equipment and technology here that most hospitals don't have," Gingrich said. "It allows us to do some really non-invasive things to keep people from even needing to have a heart cath sometimes."

Mansfield is now where many patients go to receive a valve procedure that was once an open-heart surgery. Now, doctors can finish the process by entering the heart through a blood vessel to repair the valve. Those patients often go home the next day.

"That's a phenomenal program that you don't find in many hospitals this size," Gingrich said. "It's really the dedication of Doctor (Gregory) Eaton in that vision of saying we don't want patients to have to travel to Cleveland or Columbus or other places to get that care, we want to be able to provide that care here."

OhioHealth executives refocus their strategic plan frequently to ensure its largest expenditures will always help as many patients as possible.

"The population is aging," Gingrich said. "We’re looking at where there are gaps in those six counties where we can provide higher quality and higher value care to the communities that we serve."