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On the Road with Ray: Dr. Iannaccone Visits Palms West Hospital

Posted on Mon, Sep 12, 2016
On the Road with Ray: Dr. Iannaccone Visits Palms West Hospital

Earlier this year, EmCare’s Executive Team launched a “road trip” initiative to better connect with providers in the field, recognize teams that are “making healthcare work better,” and brainstorm with those that may be struggling on how to overcome the challenges they are facing.

The recurring “On the Road with Ray” feature will highlight these visits and the dedicated clinicians who are providing care at EmCare sites across the country.

Located in the greater West Palm Beach area amid gated communities and polo grounds, Palms West Hospital is a vibrant, growing facility that serves patients across the economic scale.

Because the hospital is near bustling coastal resorts and a stone’s throw from working farms, EmCare’s emergency department teams at the site – one focused on adult patients and second dedicated pediatric team in an adjacent unit – see everything from equestrian falls to migrant worker injuries to a spike in the winter when northerners descend on the area for a reprieve from colder temperatures.

Despite being in a beautiful and balmy location, John Halpern, DO, chairman of the Emergency Department, admits that recruiting quality physicians has been a struggle, as there are competing hospitals vying for the same candidates. This challenge is one of the reasons why Dr. Halpern asked EmCare’s President, Ray Iannaccone, MD, FACEP, FACHE, to visit his site.

“I think it’s important that the company’s executives hear from the ground troops – the men and women providing care in our EDs,” explained Dr. Halpern. “It’s a new step for EmCare, and I wanted our team to be able to get more engaged with the company.”

But this meeting wasn’t the first time that Dr. Halpern had met EmCare’s president; When Dr. Iannaccone was an emergency medicine intern in the U.S. Navy, Dr. Halpern was his attending physician at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. It’s a small world, indeed.

The visit provided an opportunity for the company’s administration to better understand the culture at Palms West and brainstorm ways to capitalize on the facility’s advantages for clinicians. These discussions included Erika Vazquez-Cuffe, MD, medical director of pediatric emergency medicine; Venkat Kalidindi, MD, executive vice president; Michael Davis, FACHE, division client administrator; Palms West CEO Eric Goldman, and several Palms West emergency physicians and advanced practice providers.

While Dr. Vazquez-Cuffe has only been at the helm of the pediatric ED since November 2015, she and her team have been able to make significant progress in improving key clinical metrics.

“Palms West is in a great area and it has strong relationships with local emergency medicine residency programs, which is a plus,” Dr. Iannaccone said. “Its pediatric services are a real differentiator in the market, and I’m proud of how EmCare has been able to partner with the hospital to grow that offering.”

The hospital, which sees about 140 ED visits a day, chiefly serves young families and affluent adults. It doesn’t see a high percentage of seniors in the off-season, but during the winter, the senior population in the area can spike significantly.
A key topic of discussion was the facility’s sepsis initiatives and how the team plans to meet national guidelines. And, like most EDs, Palms West relies on referrals to grow its volume, so EMS outreach also was discussed.

“We sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk about the challenges and opportunities that we have here,” Dr. Halpern said. “Several clinicians had specific questions for Ray, and he committed to looking into their concerns. It was a positive meeting and I’m glad that I reached out to him.”

After touring the facility and speaking with the hospital’s administrators, Dr. Iannaccone and several clinicians had a dinner meeting at a local restaurant to continue their discussions.

“They have a good team at Palms West, and we’re going to work together to find ways to recruit more residency and fellowship-trained physicians and continue to improve outcomes,” Dr. Iannaccone explained. “Our clinicians now know that the Executive Team cares and that we’re listening, and we’re here to help.”

“It was great to meet Dr. Iannaccone,” Dr. Vazquez-Cuffe. “We feel privileged that he has taken time from his busy schedule to show us his support. We feel confident that he supports the growth and betterment of our staff.”

Visit EmCare's Facebook page for more photos from Palms West! And, if you would like to suggest your site for a future visit, please contact