LourdesCare Aims to Make Patients 'Center of the Universe'
The new ambulatory care center, at Brace Road and Route 70 in Cherry Hill, will give patients the chance to see multiple specialists in one spot.
When LourdesCare at Cherry Hill starts taking in patients, likely sometime this week, it’ll do something Reginald Blaber, Lourdes’ executive director of cardiology, has heard requested from his patients for years:
Get doctors in the same spot, talking to each other about what’s going on with each individual.
From cardiologists to endocrinologists, vascular surgeons to heart failure specialists, they’ll all work together under one roof at the 54,000-square-foot ambulatory care center at Brace Road and Route 70, in a sort of one-stop medical service mall, as Blaber described it.
“We’re trying to create a place where physicians can collaborate around the patient,” he said, as opposed to the old method of fractured care and balkanized offices.
“You have to drive from place to place to place, and the docs never talk to each other—here, they’re all in one place, working side-by-side, so we’re communicating about the patient. When docs communicate, there’s better care.”
Put together in a whirlwind 10 months, starting with township planning board approvals last spring to regulatory approvals and the actual move-in process, which is ongoing through March, LourdesCare at Cherry Hill represents a necessary shift in how healthcare’s delivered to patients, said Alexander J. Hatala, Lourdes’ president and chief executive officer.
While hospitals, like Lourdes’ location in Camden, are still important, Hatala said, there’s more of a focus on outpatient-based ambulatory care, rather than hospital-based care.
That was a sentiment shared by John Calabria, director of the Division of Health Facilities Evaluation and Licensing at the state Department of Health, who pointed to an evolution in care toward ambulatory centers.
“These are the kinds of settings hospitals must embrace,” Calabria said.
Moving multiple related specialties into the same building is part of that idea, in an effort to, as Blaber said, foster better communication and better care.
“Our goal is to make it easy for patients,” Hatala said. “It’s not about the center, it’s about you.”
Lourdes’ move to the center of Cherry Hill replaces what had been a rotted tooth in the commercial landscape—vacant since about 2006, the building had previously been a grocery store and, more recently, National Wholesale Liquidators—and Mayor Chuck Cahn hailed it as part of a renaissance at the old Ellisburg Circle, which will also see Whole Foods move in to the shopping center named for the former traffic landmark.
“Not long ago, this building was really just a big slab of concrete—it was old, it was tired,” he said. “Today, we gain a new face in the local healthcare landscape, and the residents gain access to first-rate care right here on Route 70.”
Having Lourdes on Route 70 creates a sense of vibrancy and excitement, Cahn said, and he hailed it as a key part of the township’s economic turnaround.
“It stands as a symbol of the new era of Cherry Hill,” Cahn said. “By sending this message, that Cherry Hill is in fact alive and thriving, we will attract additional interest from others.”
LourdesCare at Cherry Hill will house offices for a number of specialties, including cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, bariatrics, orthopedics, rheumatology, podiatry, radiology, cardiac rehabilitation and physical therapy, and laboratory services, and will be the main location for Lourdes Cardiology Services and Lourdes’ Congestive Heart Failure Center.
An open house for the public is slated for Saturday, March 23.