Northwest Health CEO meets with Portage civic group

Northwest Health CEO meets with Portage civic group

Northwest Health is meeting with local groups to hear about their healthcare needs and to share about ways their team is bringing new levels of care and adding services for the Northwest Indiana communities. 

Northwest Health Chief Executive Officer Ashley Dickinson, FACHE discussed the hospital system’s services during a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 15 with the Portage Kiwanis Club members. 

Northwest Health serves surrounding communities in various locations, including Chesterton, La Porte, Michigan City, and Valparaiso. In 2020, almost 800,000 patients received care from Northwest Health, and about $500 million was in capital to build new facilities and make improvements, local taxes, charity care care and with local vendors. 

Dickinson noted a handful of new services for the community including full gastrointestinal (GI) service coverage, a new bariatric weight loss program, and attracting new surgeons and providers. She said patients no longer have to travel out-of-state for procedures like transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), watchman, coronary lithotripsy, and transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF). 

"Northwest Health – Porter is among the first in the area to perform TAVR, which means patients don’t have to travel to Chicago," said Dickinson. "It's an incredible procedure, and our patients are doing well after it."

The watchman procedure, known as left atrial appendage closure (LACC), is for those who are on long-term medication for atrial fibrillation. Northwest Health – Porter recently recognized the healthcare system’s cardiologists who have performed the hospital’s 250th watchman procedure. The hospital is one of the few in Northern Indiana and Chicagoland who can perform the procedure.  

Coronary lithotripsy is another procedure that Dickinson said patients had seen outstanding results with. The procedure breaks up coronary blockages, and Northwest Health is one of the only hospitals in the area completing the procedure as well. 

TIF is an advanced, minimally invasive, surgical procedure that relieves gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Dickinson said a new GI physician is treating some advanced GI cases. 

While talking about TIF, Dickinson also mentioned an artificial intelligence system for enhanced colonoscopy screenings. “We are the only hospital in Northwest Indiana using artificial intelligence to aid colonoscopies,” Dickinson said. “It’s allowing our gastroenterologists to see things that, historically, they wouldn’t have been able to see and detect even more cancers in an early stage. It’s very exciting.” 

Regarding the OB/GYN department, Northwest Health – Porter is a Level III OB and NICU hospital, which means there is an OB physician at the hospital 24/7 and an OB emergency department. The NICU department offers a neonatologist team 24/7.  “It’s a tremendous level of care that we have,” Dickinson said. 

A couple of weeks ago, Northwest Health – Porter was designated as a Baby-Friendly hospital. Dickinson and the hospital staff are proud of this designation, and it's just one of many that the healthcare system has received. Dickinson said most of these recognitions surround cardiovascular health, cancer services, drug care, and orthopedics. 

“This means that our equipment is meeting certain specifications and that our providers are practicing at the highest standard of care,” Dickinson said. “It also means that our caregivers have met the rigorous criteria.” 

She explained that the Northwest Health caregivers must have specific certifications or training to meet the criteria for the various honors the hospital has achieved. The caregivers have stepped-up and are leading the initiatives for those designations. Dickinson is proud of the many credentials and designations the healthcare system has earned.  

“It’s about taking care of our community and patients that we are privileged to serve,” Dickinson said. Dickinson also mentioned how there are several reasons that the team members at Northwest Health began a career in healthcare. Northwest Health recently created marketing to bring an awareness of why the employees are in the healthcare field. 

Several employees have recently been celebrated and recognized. Roses are presented to the employees who have worked for the healthcare system for more than 25 years. Many are recognized for going above and beyond the standard level of care.   

For more information about Northwest Health – Porter, visit its website at www.nwhealthporter.com. To request a presentation for a community group call 219-326-2048.