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In Their Own Words: What St. Clair’s Doctors Say About The Mayo Clinic Care Network

In August 2016, the news broke in Pittsburgh that St. Clair Hospital had joined the Mayo Clinic Care Network. This collaboration has been a gift to the St. Clair Hospital community, and is unique to the western Pennsylvania area. At its core, the collaboration is about allowing our physicians to partner with Mayo Clinic physicians. This combined expertise will provide incredible assistance and support to our local doctors as they treat challenging medical conditions - and at no additional cost to the patients relying on our care.

This collaboration could make all the difference for doctors working on particularly difficult cases, according to St. Clair staff members. Raye J. Budway, M.D., a board-certified breast surgeon and director of the St. Clair Hospital Breast Care Center, and Jeffrey M. Friedel, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist and chief of the Hospital’s cardiology division, are especially enthusiastic about collaborating with the physicians of Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

What They Think: The Staff’s Thoughts

Dr. Budway has described St. Clair’s new relationship with Mayo Clinic as an “incredible” opportunity. This collaboration gives St. Clair the resources of an internationally renowned medical institution and a network of exceptional hospitals. “It gives us access to a huge amount of data and clinical expertise that will help us to continually enhance the quality of patient care at St. Clair,” she explains. “And at no additional expense to the patient or insurer.”

Dr. Friedel shares Dr. Budway’s excitement. He has attended conferences and training programs at Mayo Clinic, and has colleagues there. “Like St. Clair, they excel in the quality of their patient care,” he says of Mayo Clinic. That need to continuously provide the best care possible is a key reason for Dr. Friedel’s excitement. “For my specialty, cardiology, this is a tremendous opportunity,” he says. “We’ll have access to Mayo Clinic cardiac protocols and will be better able to bring new procedures and new technologies to St. Clair. This collaboration will truly take our Hospital to the forefront of cardiovascular medicine.”

Collaboration In Practice: The Impact Of The Mayo Clinic Care Network

Both Dr. Budway and Dr. Friedel have reason to be excited about the potential of the Mayo Clinic Care Network collaboration. In fact, these doctors were the first St. Clair physicians to use Mayo’s eConsults tools to benefit their patients.

For Dr. Friedel, the network came into play as he worked to help a patient with a rare and complex cardiac condition that affected the heart valves of his patient.  “This condition is only seen in Pittsburgh area hospitals perhaps two or three times a year,” he explains. “But Mayo Clinic sees dozens of these cases a year.”

As a result, the eConsults tool “worked perfectly” for Dr. Friedel. “I entered the data and quickly received a response from a Mayo Clinic cardiologist,” he recalls. “He was extremely helpful, sharing information that was useful to me in managing the care of my patient.”

And this example is just the beginning of the potential future for this new collaborative membership. Dr. Budway, for example, plans to use Mayo Clinic Care Network resources on a regular basis to assist in creating specialized treatment plans that will best address the nuances and clinical challenges involved in breast care and cancer treatments. “Having access to the Mayo Clinic eTumor Boards will give me an entire network of experts across the country with whom I can discuss cases,” says Dr. Budway. “This will enhance my practice and be of great benefit to my patients; it will allow me and my surgical partner (Tara L. Grahovac, M.D.) to treat with greater precision and individualization. With breast cancer, we know now that over-treating can be as detrimental as under-treating. By collaborating with Mayo, we will be able to fine-tune our care even more specifically and that means complications will be avoided or minimized.”

Looking To A Future With The Mayo Clinic Network

Only a few months into the new St. Clair Hospital/Mayo Clinic collaboration, the future is looking strong for these two leading teams now working together to benefit Pittsburgh’s patients. Moving forward, visitors to St. Clair Hospital can expect to see collaboration occurring on many levels, according to Dr. Friedel. And St. Clair Hospital’s teams are excited to see the depths of the new knowledge now at their fingertips. The ability to see how the highly respected Mayo Clinic addresses challenges - such as reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired infection - will allow St. Clair to observe, learn, and create possible expansions on many of the health, safety, and care programs currently in place throughout their Hospital.

Dr. Budway and Dr. Friedel also note, however, that this new collaboration is a testament to the strength of St. Clair Hospital’s teams. As Dr. Friedel notes, “The process leading to the invitation to join the Network was a rigorous one; there were months of meticulous scrutiny. They opened the hood and took a close look at every aspect of Hospital operations to make certain we are a viable partner for them, one that shares their standards of care and their philosophy. The entire community can share our pride in this.”

At the end of the day, what impressed the Mayo Clinic Care Network team the most about St. Clair was the Hospital’s culture, which is similar to Mayo Clinic’s. “What we have in common is a culture that is truly patient-centered, with collegial physician and staff relationships,” according to Dr. Friedel. “People here are approachable, always, and the focus on the patient is evident in everything we do. Going forward, this aspect of our collaboration will be the most important.”

St. Clair Hospital is excited for the future of this collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Care Network. With new resources to draw upon, St. Clair stands poised to further enhance its quality and capabilities in meeting the health care needs of patients and the community.

Looking for more information about this new collaboration? You can read about the impact it has had for staff members by downloading our Fall 2016 edition of HouseCall magazine.