Physicians give their perspective on county healthcare

By Alberta Stojkovic - For The Sentinel

MOUNT GILEAD — Dr. J. Grant Galbraith and Dr. Mohiuddin Ghazi got several laughs at the Health Advisory Citizens group meeting March 29 when they told some of the history and experiences of their 25 years as physicians in Morrow County.

Galbraith recalled his first days when he set up his practice in a trailer on land given by Bus and Mary Smith, just west of Johnsville. He noted that medical practices have changed a great deal since the time when physicians were sole practitioners and fees for office visits were $25.

Northfield Medical Center was built in 2004 as Galbraith’s practice grew and there are now five providers in the practice with a new Nurse Practitioner.

With the increases in government regulation and changes in technology, the Morrow County primary care physician’s practices were transferred to management by Morrow County Hospital (MCH) in 2012.

Association with MCH remained from 2012-2018. Then with increasing costs and decreasing revenue the county physicians met with the hospital board to find solutions for the future. Galbraith is happy with the choice of OhioHealth for their present agreement.

Ghazi has been a physician in the county for 26 years. He also sees a big change in medical practices as paperwork and management have required more time.

‘More resources’

Ghazi described the many benefits to working with OhioHealth as there are continual changes in requirements with fewer resources available to the individual doctor.

“More resources are needed as well as more time and effort for management,” Ghazi said. “I just want to practice medicine… and not run a business.”

Both Ghazi and Galbraith spoke of the value of the “Care Connect” system they use in association with OhioHealth and the Morrow County Hospital. They said the Epic program allows coordination of care with patients, doctors and specialists. It also connects with OSU Hospital, Cleveland Clinic and American Health systems.

Ghazi emphasized the importance of building trust between patient and physician.

“Continued care is most important in primary care,” Ghazi said and added that it takes a long time to build trust.

Quality, value sought

Galbraith summarized, saying that Morrow County physicians were involved in the decision to forge an agreement with OhioHealth. He appreciates the support of OhioHealth for staff, technology and their ability to look at future trends in healthcare.

Galbraith said that the hospital and physicians are “moving away from a volume-based” model of healthcare. Rather than looking at “heads in beds,” they are seeking quality and value in healthcare.

“We are preventative medical specialists,” said Galbraith, adding that he wants to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital.

Advisory member Loren Altizer asked why MCH doesn’t have more of the market share. Ghazi answered that there is less emphasis on inpatient care in small hospitals and more use of specialists and outpatient services. Ghazi said it would be a financial burden to build up the hospital again. A small hospital can’t give the inpatient care that a larger one can.

Galbraith said that county physicians have evolved to doing more preventative care in their office, while MCH does outpatient care best with referrals to their specialists.

Recruiting efforts

Eddie Lou Meimer asked about recruitment going on for new physicians. Galbraith answered there is definitely recruitment. He knows that management is working on it, but the pandemic has slowed down the process some.

Galbraith declined to say if Avita Health Systems could improve the hospital, saying he is not aware of their business plan.

Both physicians spoke of the services they have used with telehealth. They also described services through OhioHealth that provides a pool of physicians that is available when they are on vacation or otherwise need support.

Another OhioHealth service available to them is through a specialized nurse who meets with them to follow more complicated cases and follow up with patients regularly.

Ghazi said that having good patient compliancy with follow-up for exams and tests are also an important part of their staff communications.

“The conversation here is that we all have to take responsibility for our own health,” said Jennifer Williams. “We have to have community programs, parks and nutrition resources. It’s not fair to put it all on the doctors and say ‘fix me.’”

The next meeting of MC-HIC will be April 12 with group members working on county healthcare strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis.

By Alberta Stojkovic

For The Sentinel