Go for the Green, But Think Outside the Leafy Box

by Laura Stepp, MA, RD, LD, Clinical Dietitian at LMC

It’s National Nutrition Month! Time To savor the flavor of eating right.

Laura Stepp

Laura Stepp

All colors of food are important to include in our meals, but since it’s March and I’m part Irish I think we need to explore the world of green foods. Besides the obvious green leafy choices, there are several excellent foods coming into season that will help put new life into our spring meals.

Asparagus and Brussel sprouts “spring” to mind. Both can seem scary due to their natural chemical makeup that can sometime cause them to smell (and sometimes taste), well, not so good. Both vegetables offer a variety of nutrients that are beneficial to our health and both can be used in several ways to increase flavor and variety to our recipes.

Green_veg_3___Read-Only___Compatibility_Mode_Eaten on their own and simply prepared allows asparagus and Brussel sprouts to show off just how good they really can taste. One of my favorite ways to prepare and eat either of these vegetables is to roast them in a 400 degree oven. If you are roasting Brussel sprouts, first cut them in halves or quarters. Drizzle a little olive oil and cracked pepper over the top, and then toss well before spreading on a cookie sheet in a single layer. I roast for 15 mins and check them. Brussel sprouts will need to be tossed and put back in for another 10-15 minutes depending if they were cut in half or quarters.

Oven roasting brings out and enhances the natural nuttiness of the vegetables without the smell that typically turns most people away. In addition to oven roasting, grilling or sautéing (stir-fry) will also enhance the flavor. (Tip: Choose asparagus that is thin, not thick, and trim the hard white ends off before cooking) A squeeze of lemon and some fresh grated parmesan cheese is an excellent way to finish off this simply heart-healthy side.

A Conversation with Our President & CEO

MidlandsBiz publisher Alan Cooper visited our hospital recently to talk with Tod Augsburger, our President & CEO. The article below is an installment from the publication’s “A Conversation With” series that focuses on our community’s business leaders.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What is your education and background?

Tod Augsburger, Lexington Medical Center President & CEO

Tod Augsburger, Lexington Medical Center President & CEO

Tod Augsburger:
I was born in rural Indiana and raised in Michigan. I received my undergraduate degree at Michigan State University in finance and spent a couple of years traveling before earning a Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan. After graduation, I worked in Columbus, Ohio for ten years before coming to Lexington Medical Center in 1999 as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What were some of your early passions that motivated your career?
 
Tod Augsburger:
Like many hospital administrators, at one point I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I worked in an emergency department when I was a biology major in undergrad, and discovered that it was not for me. I didn’t have the psychological capacity to handle sick and dying patients on a day to day basis. Nobody in my family was in medicine, so I didn’t know of alternative careers in the field. I thought you were either an ER doctor or a family doctor. I abandoned the idea of working in medicine, decided to major in finance and business, and subsequently worked in the for-profit world for a while.
 
But I never felt that I was making a difference, so I started exploring other options. A colleague said, ‘Well, you love health care – somebody has to run these hospitals and to do that, they need people with a business background.’  I researched the best universities for degrees in health care administration and enrolled at the University of Michigan. I have been in health care ever since.
 
MidlandsBiz:
Give a brief history of Lexington Medical Center.
 
Tod Augsburger:
Back in the late 1960’s, Lexington County community members felt strongly that they needed a hospital on this side of the river to meet the needs of the growing population. From what I understand, the idea was not well embraced by the downtown establishment. There was a feeling that downtown Columbia had good hospitals and that was sufficient. The community forged ahead, passed referendums to help secure funding, and with great community support Lexington Medical Center was completed in 1971. Forty-five years later, there is still tight relationship between this hospital and the community in which we serve. Folks in Lexington County feel as though they have an ownership in this hospital.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What is your core business?
 
Tod Augsburger:
We provide quality health services that meet the needs of our community.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What is the mission of Lexington Medical Center?
 
Tod Augsburger:
Pretty much the same as our core business. To provide quality health services that meet the needs of our community. We try to keep our mission statement short and concise.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What role do you see the hospital playing in the community?
 
Tod Augsburger:
We are here to take care of people and their illnesses. In doing this job, we are the largest employer in Lexington County and the second largest in the Midlands. We partner with our schools and businesses to help make Lexington County and the Midlands a great place in which to live and receive medical care.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What is the ownership and governance structure of the hospital?
 
Tod Augsburger:
The vast majority of hospitals in the country are private not-for-profits. Our structure is a slightly different. Lexington Medical Center was founded by an act of the South Carolina Legislature to be a governmental subdivision called a health services district. Though we are a subdivision, we are not funded by taxes. Lexington County Council appoints our board members — all of whom must live in Lexington County. This link to Lexington County government further strengthens our ties to the local community. Our employees participate in South Carolina’s state employee retirement system. There are some for-profit hospitals whose business goal is to maximize profits and distribute them to shareholders all over the country. That is not us.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What is unique and special about Lexington Medical Center?
 
Tod Augsburger:
Our ties to the community have allowed us to build a culture where our employees feel very, very strongly about this hospital; that is what differentiates the care you receive here. We will do our best to treat our patients as our friends, neighbors and family. That is terribly important to us. We teach that, coach that, select and hire for that. More often than not, our patients tell us that our employees treated them better than they ever thought they would be treated.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What are the unique challenges you face as a leader as you try to maintain culture across a growing organization?
 
Tod Augsburger:
True, we are growing! There are a lot of places that don’t have that challenge.  When I arrived here in 1999, we had approximately 1,500 employees in just a few buildings. Now we have 6,000 employees in 80 locations. Maintaining our culture in the face of rapid growth is challenging, but we do that by who we hire, how we hire, and how we orient new employees to the Lexington Medical Center culture. We also model our hospital culture to new employees and show visible symbols of how we want them to behave as we work to provide outstanding care.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What are the top trends that arose out of the Affordable Care Act?  How did Lexington Medical Center address these challenges and convert them to opportunities?
 
Tod Augsburger:
Most people have very little understanding of the Affordable Care Act, and often, what they have heard scares and upsets them. The vast majority of it is not true. The ACA is not a panacea. It does not solve all of the country’s health care challenges, but it is a start.
 
Prior to the ACA, 17 percent of our country did not have health care insurance. I think that’s unfair. By 2014, that number was down to 13 percent nationally; so, what the ACA did was to increase the volume of patients. In South Carolina, a little more than 200,000 additional people have been able to enroll in health exchanges and get access to health insurance since the ACA has passed. The community may not see the number of uninsured people in our community, but there are a lot of them. Unfortunately, there are another 200,000 people in South Carolina who still have no health insurance because we, as a state, haven’t been willing to adopt the full aspects of the ACA and Medicaid expansion. I’m disappointed that politics are standing in the way of helping the poorest of our state. 
 
From the hospital side, the ACA has required hospitals to put a greater emphasis on quality of care and measuring outcomes while still meeting the increased volume of patients. That is challenging, but I believe a good thing. 
 
Hospital Expansion

Hospital Expansion

MidlandsBiz:
Talk more about your growth and what you are currently building. 
 
Tod Augsburger:
We are adding roughly a 500,000 square foot addition to the back of the hospital, effectively adding about 50 percent more space. Hospitals are not built in increments. We are building infrastructure and capacity that should last this community for 20 years or more.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What might be some of the unique features that people could see in the new space?
 
Tod Augsburger:
We are the second busiest deliverer of babies in the state of South Carolina.  As a Level 2 certified nursery, we deliver a lot of premature babies.  In every hospital around South Carolina today, and pretty much around the country, those babies are kept in a typical nursery which means that mothers often have limited access to their babies and have to go home at night. In this new addition, we are building 20 patient rooms for the baby that will accommodate the parents – they will have their own space to spend time with the baby. We think it is an innovative addition to the community.
 
MidlandsBiz:
There must be a million metrics that speak to your hospital’s performance.  What are the top ones that you watch?
 
Tod Augsburger:
First, we ask every patient to complete a national standardized survey that we use to improve care. We take the surveys very seriously.
 
Second, I receive daily metrics of our hospital volumes and activity. I look at it to determine overall areas of growth and where where our constraints are.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What are your personal passions in and out of work?
 
Tod Augsburger:
I live in Lexington so I care deeply about this community. For years, my wife taught in Lexington School District One and is considering returning to teaching this year. I love the arts, parks, really anything that improves the quality of life for the local community. I am on the Columbia Museum of Art’s board.
 
I like spending time on the lake, preferably in a sailboat. And we are members of the Columbia Sailing Club.
 
I like to travel. My wife and I have raised two daughters and we had the great fortune to be able to travel and show them different parts of the world.  I think that is important.
 
I am the incoming chair of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What is your leadership style?
 
Tod Augsburger:
I am energetic, enthusiastic, and I hope, rather informal, or accessible. I am a strong advocate for what we do and how we do it at Lexington Medical Center. My job is to care for the people who care for our patients.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What is your favorite business book?
 
Tod Augsburger:
Leadership on the Line by Martin Linsky is a good one in my opinion because of its emphasis on change.  
 
MidlandsBiz:
What are you reading now?
 
Tod Augsburger:
I am a voracious reader of fiction — especially thrillers. I just finished Stephen King’s Finders Keepers.
 
MidlandsBiz:
What are you most proud of at Lexington Medical Center?
 
Tod Augsburger:
I am most proud of the way our employees take care of our patients. They do an amazing job. I can’t go anywhere without patients telling me that our staff is wonderful. That is what I am most proud of.
 

Patient Story: Congenital Heart Defect Leads to Aortic Valve Surgery

When Robert Prielipp of Lexington was just 24 years old, he lost his father to heart failure. Robert’s father was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, the most common congenital heart defect. A normal aortic valve has three leaflets that open and close to allow oxygenated blood out of the heart into the body. In a bicuspid aortic valve, two of the leaflets are fused. Sometimes, that can cause the valve to be narrowed or leak, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. Over time, it can cause the heart muscle to thicken and lead to heart failure.

ROBERT P
The doctor told Robert’s mother it would be wise for Robert to have his heart checked as well, since a bicuspid aortic valve is common and can be hereditary.

Robert was always active in his youth. “I played basketball, football, baseball and golf. I also ran 5K races. I never had an issue with anything,” he said. But his father’s death prompted him to see a cardiologist once he reached his 30s.

Robert learned he suffered from the same heart defect. “My doctor said that I had a heart murmur, but that I probably wouldn’t have to worry about having my aortic valve repaired until sometime in my 60s.”

With continued monitoring, all was well until Robert hit his 40s, when his doctor expressed concern that the valve might be deteriorating faster than originally expected.

“Tests showed that there was a buildup of calcium in the valve,” he said. “I kept thinking that my dad was just 52 when he passed away and his brother was even younger.”
Robert was an avid runner, completing three-mile jogs several times a week. He began noticing that it would take him longer to finish his workout – and he was becoming more easily winded.

Dr. Dee Prastein of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery

Dr. Dee Prastein of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery

At Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, Dee Prastein, MD, recommended that he have aortic valve replacement surgery sooner rather than later. Dr. Prastein said his aortic valve was severely deteriorated and he had an enlarging aneurysm, both of which needed to be addressed surgically. 
The defective valve would be replaced with either a mechanical or tissue valve. In August of 2015, Robert underwent open heart surgery at Lexington Medical Center.

Robert credits Dr. Prastein with easing his concerns over the surgery. “I had a lot of anxiety prior to the surgery, not knowing what to expect,” he recalled. “But she would even call me after my appointments to make sure she had answered all my questions. That was extremely helpful for me.” And Dr. Prastein included Robert in the decision process for determining what type of valve replacement would be best for him and his lifestyle.

With surgery and recovery now behind him, Robert is feeling great. “I enrolled in Lexington Medical Center’s cardiac rehabilitation program after surgery. I was able to build my endurance back up and I’m feeling back to my old self. I’m pretty much doing everything that I did before.”

That includes regular jogs at the Lexington High School track near his home – where his time for a three-mile run is now steadily improving.

While Robert didn’t exhibit the same symptoms as his father – difficulty breathing, and swelling in his feet and legs – he knows that he learned from the tragedy of losing his father and he hopes others will benefit, too. “I’ve been telling everyone that it doesn’t hurt to get looked at. Just because you feel well, as I did, doesn’t necessarily mean all is well, especially when it comes to your heart,” he said. “When you turn 40, just have a checkup. If everything is fine, then great. If not, then hopefully, you caught the problem early. As my 95-year-old grandmother says, ‘Just take it one day at a time.’”