SoutheastHEALTH to begin pathology partnership with Washington University

Sunday, August 13, 2017
Dr. George Wettach

SoutheastHEALTH again is partnering with Washington University, this time with the St. Louis medical school's pathology and immunology department.

The arrangement will include a physical presence and telepathology services. Two Washington University pathologists will be on site.

"The impressive thing about Wash U is the 40 expert pathologists that are on their staff," SoutheastHEALTH president and CEO Ken Bateman told the Southeast Missourian during a July interview. "And were going to have access to those 40 pathologists through their telepathology program where, literally, they can go onto their microscopes and look at our samples as though they were sitting here in Cape."

Bateman said pathology often is key in determining diagnoses, especially those of cancer patients.

"Your first diagnosis needs to be the correct diagnosis," he said. "The expert pathology team at Washington University will be of great benefit to our patients."

Kenneth Bateman, president and CEO of SoutheastHEALTH, poses for a photo March 2016 at Southeast Hospital.
Southeast Missourian file

The Washington University collaboration greatly expands SoutheastHEALTH's pathology capabilities, he said.

"Where in the past we had three general pathologists, now we've got 40 expert pathologists with world-renowned credentials," he said.

Drs. George R. Wettach and Steve LaRue now will be based at SoutheastHEALTH.

"My partner Dr. Steve LaRue and I are backed by a full range of technical know-how and subspecialty diagnostic expertise," Wettach said in a news release. "The digital-pathology bridge allows us to share high-quality images of microscopic sections with our colleagues in St. Louis in real time.

"Besides slide consults, our fellow faculty members include leading figures in clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, transfusion medicine and microbiology. They are never more than a phone call or an email away."

Washington University School of Medicine's Pathology and Immunology department was established more than 100 years ago.

"Access to that level of medicine at a community hospital is almost unheard of," Bateman said.

The Washington University pathology team includes experts in about 20 subspecialties, several of whom are experts in breast-cancer diagnoses.

The partnership comes after SoutheastHEALTH and Washington University's cardiothoracic surgery division announced a similar partnership in February.

The newly announced partnership also is part of an ongoing effort by SoutheastHEALTH to expand and upgrade, having received approval last month to issue about $107 million in new bonds.

SoutheastHEALTH director of marketing and business development Shauna Hoffman credited Bateman as a driving force behind the hospital's increasing access to academic medicine.

"[He] is really trying to bring academic medicine to community hospital," Hoffman said.

"I think these affiliations speak well to that goal."

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