Health Care Networks - a City of Care

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley

"As you continue through your job hunt, consider checking out the health care networks which serve your area."

Health care networks "are run like small cities," said Robin Fell, vice president of Workforce Planning and Staffing for Advocate Health Care.

Offering something for every type of employee, Fell explained that in addition to medical personnel, a network is an industry which includes a plethora of non-clinical people as well, with varied departments such as mailrooms, copy centers, legal offices, finance, information technology, post offices, restaurants, cleaning staff, and more.

What is a health care network?

Health care networks are composed of one or more facilities, programs, and possibly additional external pieces, which all work together to provide comprehensive, quality health care (www.tamu.edu).

Of benefit to the medical community, networks provide workable solutions to growing issues and trends, such as cost and competition, and technological advances.

For the population being served, the network can offer quality health care at more reasonable costs. They can also provide a wide range of health care treatments and options under one system.

Advocate Health Care is recognized as the leading integrated health care delivery network in the United States, according to their web site, www.advocatehealthcare.com. This network is "an integrated health care system. We are one company, with one bottom line," said Fell.

The major pieces which comprise Advocate Health Care's network, which formed in 1995, include: 10 hospitals, 3 large physician groups, and the largest privately held home health care organization in Illinois.

Growing into a contemporary health facility

Before 1995, Advocate Health Care consisted of two separate hospital-based systems: Lutheran General, and EHS Health Care.

By the early '90s, these two systems decided to partner up into one network because "they had similar (faith-based) philosophies," Fell said. "And because of the financial dynamics -- there's strength in coming together. The network covers a broader range of care, and could better weather the challenges from the government and insurance, i.e. managed health care."

Advocate Health Care reaches throughout Chicago and most of the suburbs, from Northwest Indiana to the Wisconsin border, and even southwest into Aurora.

"We pretty much have a facility within 10 miles of every suburban area," said Fell, who has worked in Advocate facilities in Downers Grove, Park Ridge, and now in Oak Brook. "And they put me through graduate school. We provide full (tuition) reimbursement. We're very much about development, and keeping people."

The trend certainly appears to be in favor of health care networks, which more and more hospitals and other care facilities are joining. …