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Empowering Excellence: Dr. David Corner’s Collaborative Approach to Transforming Patient Care at St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic

June 20, 2024

Dr. David Corner has always been guided by a commitment to social justice and addressing the basic needs of underserved populations. Raised in a Catholic family in Rhode Island, his early exposure to the Catholic social justice movement set the foundation for his career in medicine. After completing his medical education at Brown University and his residency at Boston Medical Center, Dr. Corner dedicated his career to community-based primary care. His work with the Haitian Health Foundation alongside Franciscan nuns deeply influenced his approach to medicine and service.

In October of last year, Dr. Corner and his wife, an OB-GYN, relocated to San Francisco to be closer to family and create a home for their own. It was here that Dr. Corner joined St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic, drawn by its mission and the commendation of a colleague who spoke highly of Larry, the CEO of St. Anthony’s. As Dr. Corner notes, “Larry’s leadership and the mission of St. Anthony’s were key factors in my decision to join this organization.”

Dr. Corner’s recent promotion to Medical Director is a testament to his dedication and vision for the Clinic. One of his significant initiatives has been leading a Quality Improvement (QI) project aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the Drop-In Clinic. The Drop-In Clinic, initiated in the Summer of 2023 by Dr. Kwan, was designed to increase patient access to medical services and serve as a gateway for new patients to receive acute medical care while enrolling in primary care at the Clinic.

The QI project had a clear and ambitious goal: to reduce the average wait time for patients at the Drop-In Clinic by 55% by April 10, 2024. This goal was based on patient testimonials which consistently highlighted long wait times as a major issue. The project’s success in achieving this goal would not only improve patient satisfaction but also allow the Clinic to serve more patients within the same operational hours, maximizing the number of guests seen and the value of donor contributions.

To reach this goal, Dr. Corner and his team implemented several key interventions:

  1. Simplified Registration Forms: The registration process was streamlined to reduce the time taken to gather necessary information from patients.
  2. Dedicated Staff for Drop-In Clinic: A specific staff member was designated to handle the registration of drop-in patients, ensuring more efficient processing.
  3. On-Site Eligibility and Enrollment (E&E) Screening: E&E staff were made available on-site to assist patients in enrolling in insurance programs, reducing barriers to care.
  4. Enhanced Communication Tools: Walkie-talkies were introduced for better communication between the front office, nurses, and medical assistants.
  5. Data-Driven Approach: The team developed a report in the electronic medical record system (Epic) to track wait times and monitor improvements.

The results of these interventions were impressive. By April, the average wait time had decreased from 75 minutes to 52 minutes, a 31% reduction. This improvement translated to an annual savings of 220 hours and 48 minutes, allowing the Clinic to see an additional 254 patients annually without increasing staffing or clinic hours.

The success of this project is best illustrated through the experiences of the staff involved. Scott Shapiro, a Registered Nurse, shared his insights: “I am the nurse in charge of the drop-in clinic, so being able to collaborate with the front office and the attending MD during the QI meetings was very helpful. It was fun to come up with new ideas, implement them the following day, and find out what works and what does not.” Scott also highlighted the importance of team collaboration: “Everyone on our team felt a connection to the success and continued improvement of the Drop-In program.”

Astrid Hernandez, a Community Health Worker, also reflected on her role and the project’s impact: “My role was to serve as the ‘standby’ case manager for clients coming in for Drop-In Clinic. I would sometimes be asked to do a warm handoff by medical providers to assess the needs of clients and provide case management/care coordinating services as needed.” She emphasized how the project fostered a collaborative environment: “Having been a part of the QI project has influenced my daily work in a positive manner because it has taught me how I can personally improve the quality of care I provide to my patients.”

Both Scott and Astrid acknowledged the challenges faced during the project, such as lack of communication and time constraints. However, the team found innovative solutions, like using walkie-talkies to improve communication and assigning an eligibility and enrollment specialist to streamline patient registration.

Dr. Corner emphasized the importance of a collaborative approach, stating, “Involving staff from every aspect of the clinic to inform and implement changes not only improves efficiency but also empowers them to make meaningful contributions to patient care.” This approach led to a more engaged and motivated team, as illustrated by the testimonial from Scott Shapiro: “Our patients’ faces of gratitude as they complete their visit speak for themselves.”

The QI project at St. Anthony’s Drop-In Clinic is also a prime example of the foundation’s commitment to good stewardship of donor funds. By continuously striving to improve efficiency and reduce barriers to care, St. Anthony’s ensures that every dollar donated has the maximum impact. This dedication to efficiency and quality benefits the clinic’s patients and strengthens the foundation’s reputation as a responsible and effective nonprofit organization.

Looking ahead, Dr. Corner envisions scaling these QI efforts across other programs at St. Anthony’s. The goal is to empower staff with the tools and knowledge to lead change from the ground up, rather than waiting for directives from the top. This bottom-up approach to quality improvement can lead to more dynamic and effective solutions tailored to the unique needs of the community.

Dr. Corner’s work at St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic is a shining example of the foundation’s mission in action. His commitment to community-based care, combined with the successful implementation of the QI project, demonstrates how St. Anthony’s continually strives to serve the community and make the most of every donation. This dedication to efficiency and quality not only benefits the Clinic’s patients but also reinforces the foundation’s role as a leader in providing comprehensive care to the underserved.

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