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Whidden Continues 115-Year Mission to Improve Community Health

By Keith Spencer

The Whidden Memorial Hospital has been an integral part of the Everett community for 115 years, providing quality care to an ever-changing population while remaining committed to fostering community and civic involvement among the hospital and its staff.

Since its acquisition of the hospital in 2001, Cambridge Health Alliance [CHA] has continued to renovate and expand the Everett facility that dates back to the early days of the community.

“From cardiology to neurology to orthopedics to geriatrics, I feel very comfortable saying that we can offer just about every speciality service that the community needs,” notes Deb Murphy, CHA administrator of the Whidden Hospital campus.

Murphy came to the hospital in 2006, and knew immediately CHA had and continue to remain committed to being a community hospital for the residents of Everett.

Fulfilling a long-standing mission to improving community health across Boston’s metro-north communities, the Whidden is the only remaining hospital serving the 200,000 residents of Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Winthrop, and Malden.

In 1896, Miss Georgia M. Whidden gifted her home and its land on Freemont Avenue on Mount Washington to the City of Everett to establish a general hospital. The gift came with two stipulations: that the hospital be named in her family’s honor and the hospital was to remain nonsectarian with open admission of patients without distinction as to creed, color, or race.

“At a time when so many hospitals have had to slash services, the Whidden and Cambridge Health Alliance have managed to consolidate and increase services for communities and populations of patients who historically have been overlooked and watched as services were stripped and moved elsewhere over the last decade,” added Murphy.

The residents of these NoBo region gateway communities flock to Whidden with the hospital seeing more than 60,000 outpatients, of which 42,000 have visited the Emergency Room

In 2010, the hospital admitted 4,902 patients.

If you haven’t been to the Whidden lately, CHA has implemented dozens of improvements that has truly rehabilitated the hospital following an era where the hospital’s reputation had fallen through the cracks.

A new state-of-the-art 24-hour Emergency Department, improved radiology services, a 64-slice CT Scanner, expanded breast health services, and a new Medical-Surgical Unit have undoubtedly provided patients with better care over the last several years.

“Our state of the art emergency room is only three years old, we’ve just finished the medical electronic records cabling putting a computer in every patients’ room, and now we’ve installed a new, state of the art MRI machine.”

Murphy went on to emphasize the hospital’s recent improvements in health information technology had been a real vehicle to improve the overall quality, safety, and efficiency of the hospital and entire CHA network.

Over the past decade, CHA has made major investments into the electronic medical records (EMR) system for inpatient and ambulatory settings through out their network of hospitals and campuses.

As an early-adopter of the powerful tool, CHA’s medical teams have had timely access to information and in turn been able to provide timely treatment. The records also allow physicians across facilities reduce medical errors by have instant access to all relevant health information.

CHA has also further entrenched the hospital’s role in the community, creating health programs and leading community coalitions to address the major health issues of the modern era, from obesity to childhood asthma to substance abuse.

“CHA and by extension the Whidden are committed, ” Murphy emphasized. “These are programs that are especially important in this community, and we will try to provide what we can during a time when many are cutting back.”

With reform fueling significant change across the healthcare industry, CHA has taken a number of steps to preserve access and keep services consistent with its and the Whidden’s longstanding tradition of remaining committed to the people of Everett.

“We know how important this hospital is to the community, and we remain committed to continuing the Whidden’s 115-year tradition of supporting Everett, its schools, and the surrounding communities,” Murphy concluded.

“Even in darker times, I’ve seen how the nurses, doctors, and other employees of this hospital have banded together.”

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