St. Peter’s Commits to Growing Medical Staff and Increasing Community Access to Care

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St. Peter’s Commits to Growing Medical Staff and Increasing Community Access to Care

Date: 05/02/17

St. Peter’s Hospital today announced plans to expand its medical staff with the addition of more than 30 primary and specialty care physicians and providers over the next three years. The planned medical staff growth will occur within St. Peter’s Medical Group (SPMG) and independent community medical practices.  

St. Peter’s decision to grow its medical staff is in response to the community’s desire for improved access to quality, local-based primary and specialty care. In a 2015 community health needs assessment, improved access was identified as a top priority, and was reaffirmed in a community perception survey conducted by St. Peter’s in September 2016. In response to these findings, the St. Peter’s Board of Directors committed that one of its key strategic initiatives is to improve patient access through growth in St. Peter’s medical staff.   

“The community has been an important partner in our endeavor to realign the priorities of St. Peter’s with the evolving needs of the people we serve,” said Board Chair Mark Taylor. “We’re being very intentional about how we deliver health care services to our patients today, but we also must keep an eye toward the longer-term facility and capital needs that will support our growth as an integrated health system.”

The initial step in this process was updating St. Peter’s medical staff development plan, which was a collaborative effort by Medical Staff representatives and St. Peter’s senior leadership. The outcome is a plan that identifies current gaps in primary and specialty physician services, which total over 30 positions, and a targeted medical staff development plan to address these gaps. SPMG physicians currently comprise more than 50 percent of St. Peter’s active medical staff; therefore, a significant portion of the planned medical staff growth will likely occur within SPMG.

“St. Peter’s is committed to delivering on our promise to increase the ability of our patients to locally access the range and quality of care they need, when they need it,” said Interim CEO Fred Olson. “As we continue to add experienced physicians and clinic services, it’s critical that we have the physical and operations infrastructure in place to service a wide variety of healthcare needs.”

Additional steps in this process include defining a new leadership structure for SPMG and initiating a long-term space and facility planning process that will deliver its recommendations later this year. The facility planning process is focused on identifying the projected space needs and priorities for additional clinic, hospital and support services across St. Peter’s operations.  

In late March, John Cassani, DO, MBA, joined the Senior Management Team at St. Peter’s Hospital as President of SPMG. In this newly created role, Dr. Cassani oversees the direction and administration of SPMG strategic, clinical and operation activities for all SPMG hospital and ambulatory-based physicians and physician extenders. He will play a key role in St. Peter’s ongoing efforts to increase patient satisfaction and access to quality care, and will lead SPMG’s physician and provider recruitment initiatives as well as the continuing development of its leadership, governance and operations structures. Dr. Cassani brings nearly 35 years of health care experience, ranging from managing partner in a primary care group to serving as president of employed physician groups with 255 providers, including 170 physicians and 80 advanced practice providers. 

St. Peter’s is currently evaluating consulting and architectural firms with expertise in integrated health system facility planning to support its long-term space and facility planning process. Once a firm is selected, the project will take several months to complete. In anticipation of expanding facility needs, St. Peter’s is negotiating the purchase of the office building currently owned by the Student Assistance Foundation of Montana (SAF), located at 2500 Broadway. The opportunity to acquire a quality office building adjacent to the main health system campus provides St. Peter’s both short-term and long-term options to address its evolving space needs. Specific plans for future use of the SAF building will be an outcome of the facility planning process.  

On April 28, St. Peter’s and SAF signed an $8.1 million purchase agreement for the Broadway property, which includes the 56,000 sq.-ft. multi-use office building, its 3.2 acre site and some office furnishings. The property sale is scheduled to close by June 30, 2017. As part of the purchase transaction, St. Peter’s has agreed to lease a portion of the building to SAF for one year. In addition, St. Peter’s will honor the SAF building’s existing tenant lease agreements with the Office of Commissioner of Higher Education and Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program. The decision regarding continued leasing of space to outside tenants will be determined through St. Peter’s facility planning process. 

About St. Peter’s

St. Peter’s is a system of health care services including a 123-bed acute care hospital, physician clinics, cancer treatment center, behavioral health unit, urgent care clinics, home health and hospice care, dialysis center, and ambulance services. St. Peter’s serves the Helena region and southwest Montana counties of Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Jefferson, Meagher and Powell, with a combined population of approximately 97,000 residents. The mission of St. Peter’s is to partner with patients, the community and medical staff to provide exceptional and compassionate healthcare. For more information, visit stpetes.org. 

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