A neurosurgeon with Mercy Springfield Communities, Dr. Alan Scarrow is on the cutting edge of technology and innovation for patient care.
But it was the family doctors in the rural Nebraska town where he grew up that shaped his view of what a doctor could do for a community.
“Great care should be available everywhere to every person,” he says.
When he joined Mercy’s team 15 years ago, he was tasked with developing a neurosurgery group. He grew the Springfield department from zero to nine neurosurgeons that handle more than 2,200 cases annually.
“Bringing services that allowed families of all economic backgrounds to stay close to home for their care, as well as introduce people from all over the United States to the excellent care provided in a medium-size town, has been very rewarding,” he says.
Before the inception of electronic health records at Mercy, Scarrow led the neurosurgery group in collecting postoperative patient outcomes through an online portal to evaluate how surgeries helped patients. That’s “one of the holy grails of surgical practice,” says Jen Albers, director of Mercy Spine Center, Pain Management, Headache Management and Medical Destinations.
Albers says that work, along with the development of a diverse neurosurgery team, put Springfield at the forefront of employers participating in programs that allow hospital systems to provide prenegotiated rates for particular surgeries. Now, the program dubbed Mercy Medical Destinations generates 1,400 referrals nationwide each year, working with such companies as Walmart Inc., Lowe’s Cos. Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp.
These “creative, out-of-the box ideas,” Albers says, have Scarrow’s “heart and fingerprints on them.”
Scarrow led Mercy Springfield Communities as president for almost three years until November 2017. When he began his tenure, he says the hospital was “at the center of several challenges,” most notably the previous year being its “worst financial result in 15 years.” Net operating income for the billion-dollar Springfield health system was $9 million in fiscal 2014.
There were many challenges he couldn’t change, he says, like cuts from Medicaid reimbursements. So, he shifted the conversation from what the team couldn’t control to what they could.
“We ended the year with an operating income nearly 700 percent better,” he says, noting net operating income grew to $89 million by fiscal 2017.
During his time as president, he also established a free clinic in partnership with Missouri State University and secured funding for Mercy’s new $120 million heart hospital.
Scarrow, who has both a medical degree and Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University, donates land on his family farm to grow food to feed people in need through Ozarks Food Harvest.
“We feel that addressing hunger in our community is essential,” he says. “It has been inspiring to see dozens of volunteers donate hundreds of hours to work the soil for that worthy cause.”
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