By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hospital looking to stay atop wave of future
Fran Baker-Witt
Effingham Health System CEO Fran Baker-Witt speaks during the 2019 Community Retreat at the Jekyll Island Club on Aug. 23. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

JEKYLL ISLAND — Effingham Health System is about to take its eyes off the medical horizon to briefly look at its past.

The hospital is set to conduct its 50th Anniversary Gala at The Local on Laurel in Springfield on Saturday.

Despite the impending celebration, Effingham Health System CEO Fran Baker-Witt’s was focused mostly on the future when she spoke at the 2019 Community Retreat at the Jekyll Island Club on Aug. 23. The event was sponsored by the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.

“We are a health system,” she said at the start of her remarks. “We are not a community hospital anymore. We are busting at the seams.”

Effingham Health System is expanding in several areas, including pediatric services and women’s care.

Effingham Health System has been recognized as one of Georgia’s top hospitals for two consecutive years and it is the only one to hold a four-star CMS rating.

Baker-Witt said hospital employees have worked hard to earn the trust and respect it takes to earn lofty ratings. It was only a few years ago when the hospital was generally held in low regard, she said.

“Industry recognition, this is what we have been focusing on,” Baker-Witt said. 

The CEO expressed confidence in Effingham Health System’s ability to hold its own on against larger medical facilities in the Costal Empire.

“How can we be scared when we are the only the four-star hospital in the area?” she asked.

“The motto that we phrased since I have been the CEO at Effingham is, ‘Be the change, lead the change and see the change,’” she continued. “Change is uncomfortable but it is inevitable. Right?”

Baker-Witt said the hospital has changed the way it does business and the way it treats its patients. She hopes that will translate into five-star status by 2030.

““Our values are patient safety, compassion, quality care, integrity and service excellence,” she said. 

Baker-Witt lauded its cancer center.

“We are expanding it,” she said. “As a matter of fact, we are doing some renovation on some property and that will probably start some time in 2021 or sooner.”

The hospital is also looking to become to become top centers to receive care for chest plain and cardiology services. It is also striving to become a Level 3 or Level 2 trauma center.

Baker-Witt said maintaining a high-quality workforce is a hospital priority.

“We believe at Effingham Health System that our people are our human capital — our greatest asset,” she said. “We want to become by 2030 one of the employers of choice ...”

The hospital is working with area schools and universities to entice students into the medical field, Baker-Witt said. This effort includes physicians.

“It has been a challenge to recruit physicians so we are going to get creative, in our offerings and recruitment efforts,” she said. 

Baker-Witt cited statistics that indicate that there is one primary care doctor for every 1,519 patients in Georgia. In Effingham County, the ratio is 1:4,759.

Effingham County also has a severe shortage of doctors in the areas of mental and dental health, she said.

The CEO said Effingham Health System is bracing for the needs of elderly citizens. She said 10,000 people in America reach 65 years of age on a daily basis.

 Effingham Health System is blessed with state-of-the-art equipment, including the Da Vinci robot for surgery. She said area school children will name the device through a contest.

The hospital’s equipment purchases are supported by the Effingham Health System Foundation.’