Perry Memorial Hospital and OSF HealthCare are moving into the final stretch of the integration process with less than 30 days remaining. Perry Memorial Hospital will officially become OSF HealthCare Saint Clare Medical Center on July 1, 2021, and the Perry Memorial team is busy preparing.
“We are comparing how we do things now with how OSF operates,” said Christopher Blanford, MD, director of the Family Health Clinic. “I don’t think patients will notice much of a difference. They will still be talking to the same people they know and trust, and will still be able to call in and ask questions.”
In addition to learning new processes, the team is also preparing for the upcoming retirements of Robert Mestan, MD and Arnold Faber, MD, both long-time family physicians. Looking back, Dr. Blanford credits them for helping him learn the ropes early in his practice. “They have been a great resource for me,” said Dr. Blanford. “Beyond the medicine, Dr. Mestan and Dr. Faber have helped me become familiar with the specialists in the area who will provide the best care for my patients.”
Dr. Mestan’s medical career as a family practice physician dates back to 1978, when he formed Princeton Family Physicians alongside Dr. Martin Faber. He began his practice during a time when the medical field was transforming from general practitioners with home offices to more specialized providers in clinic settings. He also witnessed major changes in technology. “When I trained, CT scans were just starting to be done,” Dr. Mestan explained. “It’s hard explaining to young physicians what medicine was like before you had a CT scan or an MRI because they’re ordered so frequently now and give so much information. In those days, you had to make diagnoses without them.”
Dr. Mestan cites electronic medical records as one of the biggest challenges when it comes to changing technology. “Transitions tend to be difficult because of the time needed to transfer patient medical records into a new system. Fortunately, we don’t have to do that right now with the OSF transition.” He is also glad to see so many of the staff who have committed to staying, working together, and providing the same quality of patient care.
Dr. Faber began his private practice in Henry, Illinois in 1985 and served communities across Bureau County as part of Princeton Family Physicians. He merged his Henry practice into Princeton Family Physicians located at Perry in 2013. Shortly after, the entire Princeton Family Physicians group was purchased by Perry Memorial Hospital and became the Perry Memorial Family Health Clinic.
Dr. Faber played a big part in the recruitment of Dr. S. Das Pamnani, PhD, whose skill set, and depth of knowledge will be an important resource for Bureau County’s aging population. Now, as part of the transition, Dr. Faber is helping each patient evaluate the best direction for their continued care. He is glad to be able to offer his patients different options based on their needs, including Dr. Pamnani for patients with chronic diseases, as well as several experienced nurse practitioners. Dr. Faber will work for OSF HealthCare until his retirement late this summer.
For Dr. Faber, one of the biggest changes he has seen is the growth of advanced practice providers. “When I started, we didn’t have any physician assistants or nurse practitioners. Now, they are used in health care not only here, but widely.”
Dr. Faber is relieved to see how nurse practitioners are making it easier for patients to access health care locally. In addition to Dr. Pamnani, patients have the option to establish care with four nurse practitioners: Anna Freeman, Karen Nenne, Rebekka Root, and Abby Vladika. “Our providers are welcoming and extremely skilled. Each provider has a something unique about their personality and our patients enjoy working with them.” Dr. Blanford shared the same sentiment, and added, “Just because someone isn’t seeing a physician, doesn’t mean they’re not getting the same level of care.”
Dr. Blanford is also looking forward to continuing the development of care teams, which was implemented in the Family Health Clinic last year. “OSF has really embraced the team model. Patients will continue to have their personal provider, and overall, the whole team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and support staff will be familiar with each patient and their needs.”
Both Dr. Mestan and Dr. Faber stayed long enough for patient to establish with a new provider. Dr. Blanford is appreciative of their efforts and understand their retirement decision. “I’ve had a lot more signs to retire than signs to keep going. It’s bittersweet, but I’m okay with it,” Dr. Faber shared. “I have appreciated my patients, I have enjoyed taking care of them, and I will miss them.”
Dr. Mestan added, “It was a very difficult decision to stop working. I’ve made relationships with many patients over the years. I’ve known some of them for 40 years. I’ve met many amazing people, and I just can’t say enough about the people who work here. The people, that’s what I will miss.”
“Thank you to Dr. Mestan and Dr. Faber for their years of service and taking great care of their patients and being a resource for myself and the other providers in the clinic. They will definitely be missed, and we will do our best to carry on their legacy,” said Dr. Blanford.
Dr. Mestan plans to retire from Perry Memorial Hospital on June 30, with Dr. Faber following on August 31. Dr. Manuel Ascano will also be retiring from the Perry Memorial Family Health Clinic on July 27. Together, they represent more than 100 years of service to the community.
About Perry Memorial Hospital:
Perry Memorial Hospital is a municipally owned, 25-bed critical access facility. One of Bureau County’s largest employers, Perry, celebrated its centennial celebration on June 17, 2020, highlighting 100 years of providing health care services.
About OSF HealthCare:
OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare employs more than 23,600 Mission Partners (employees) in 147 locations, including 14 hospitals – 10 acute care, four critical access – and two nursing colleges. Its physician network employs more than 1,500 primary care, specialist physicians, and advanced practice providers.