Dr. Michael Tawney recalls that the beginning of his relationship with Port Huron Hospital was in his former roles as Director of Emergency Services and Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Mount Clemens Regional Medical Center in Macomb County. While collaborating with Port Huron Hospital in the coordination of regional emergency medical plans, he recalls thinking the hospital was a unique "gem" in Southeastern Michigan.
When an opportunity arose for Dr. Tawney to pursue the interim position as Chief Medical Officer at Port Huron Hospital, he welcomed the move from a larger hospital system toward the independent, community-centered Port Huron Hospital. "In a larger system environment, it was much more business and bottom line. At Port Huron, I felt more comfortable with the concept of being part of an independent community hospital. I appreciate the concept of independence and local decision making being preserved at all costs," says Dr. Tawney. "Being part of a bigger system, it is less controlled locally, there's more of a corporate feel and the feel for the community slips away. Here, there's a partnership."
The theme of partnership has continued and grown in Dr. Tawney's current role as Vice President of Medical Affairs. As part of an independent hospital, Dr. Tawney sees increased collaboration and mutual respect with the hospital and community, and, as a medical doctor, he is also keenly aware of the collaboration between the hospital and the community's physicians. "Here (At Port Huron Hospital) I feel we are in this together," says Dr, Tawney. "I find that the medical staff and hospital administration staff seem to be in alignment with a good understanding of our mutual relations...for instance, there is a good number of physicians (6) on the hospital board."
Dr. Tawney feels this collaborative spirit is essential for the health of the Blue Water Area, especially in difficult times as the community faces double-digit unemployment. "The (poor) economy means there is less insurance, and annual physical exams are being put off or eliminated. Without preventive care or intervention, small medical problems are becoming major medical disasters," says Dr. Tawney.
To meet the health challenges of the area, Dr. Tawney actively seeks the participation of the medical community to not only identify problems, but to seek solutions. One way is through physician participation in the hospital's strategic planning sessions. "With the input of a variety of physicians, we can get the most from their support and partnership. We can identify necessary procedures and needed technology." This is crucial to the future of the community, as Dr. Tawney sees the hospital's role grow stronger. "This is a unique situation, as we're a community hospital in a rather large geographic area. We affect a large area. If Port Huron Hospital didn't exist, there would be a huge gap in healthcare in the state of Michigan," says Dr Tawney. "Finding ways to maintain financial stability and excellence of care is of critical importance."