It’s been almost two years since Adventist Health and Lodi Memorial Hospital got together.
Lodi has come a long way after building its first established hospital in 1910. The core of the present-day facility was started in 1945.
But over the years, major changes in alignments, technology and reimbursements have left small independent health centers at a competitive disadvantage.
Back in August 2014, members of the Lodi Memorial Hospital Association knew it was time for a change. Through a joint press release, Lodi Memorial expressed its desire to affiliate with Adventist Health.
While Lodi has always had a sizable Seventh-Day Adventist population supporting three separate churches, along with their own K-12 schools, many of the city’s residents are unfamiliar with SDA teachings. They question why Adventists would be involved in acquiring the Lodi hospital facility.
Facts are that since the church was officially founded in 1863, Seventh-Day Adventists have always supported healthy living habits and medical research — not only for their own members, but for the general population throughout the world.
Adventist health care began during 1866 in Battle Creek, Mich. At that time, medical science left much to be desired, as cures were often worse than the diseases. The church established programs that not only treated illnesses, but taught people prevention via good eating practices and avoidance of harmful habits.
Today, Seventh-Day Adventist sponsored hospitals number over 150 throughout the world. In addition, the church has 10 medical schools in 10 different countries. One is Loma Linda University, located in Southern California.
Presently, Lodi Health is in excellent hands with its executive team led by Daniel Wolcott. After numerous experiences at various hospitals throughout the country, the young and accomplished CEO rose quickly through the ranks of the clinical services organization.
Wolcott told me that Adventist Health has big plans for the future of Lodi Memorial. By the end of this year, there are strategies in place to improve support facilities for stroke victims by 50 percent. They also plan to have specialized services for those suffering from major heart attacks by 2018.
A skeletal joint replacement capability is also in the works. New equipment for women’s imagery should be installed soon. Plans for satellite clinics are now on the drawing board, along with ideas for major additional construction to the hospital within the next 10 to 15 years.
Changing focus, I asked the CEO about the present health care reimbursement system under Obamacare. Wolcott chose to stay out of the present political fray.
“There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument,” he said. “The important thing is that many people as possible have some sort of health care coverage.”
However, Wolcott was not positive about any single-payer health care plan in California, as proposed by some in the state legislature.
“I think we are too large and diversified to make a system like that work effectively here,” he opined. “Let’s see if it can be successful in another state first.”
As far as local support is concerned, Wolcott thinks community acceptance of Adventist Health has been very good. Doctors and staff come from many different backgrounds and religions. Yet there is a spirit of camaraderie among all in working toward a single mission of providing the best care for the local area.
Wolcott concluded by saying that although Lodi Memorial is now operated by a church affiliated hospital system, people of all faiths — believers and non-believers — are most welcomed. No one should worry about ideology contrary to individual beliefs being imposed against anyone’s will.
“Our mission is dedicated to enhancing the health and wellness of the community and the patients we serve in health care services,” he said.
Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.