Health & Wellness 2024: Flossmoor doctor leads as hospital adapts to changes

The health care world is changing rapidly, and a Flossmoor physician is at the helm of medical operations at Franciscan Health’s Olympia Fields hospital, guiding the local facility through those changes.
Dr. Fulton Porter stepped into the role of chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs at the end of January.

“The landscape of medicine has changed a great deal,” he said. “It has necessitated that hospitals be smarter, more efficient getting patients quality care and getting them to the next level of care as soon as possible.”

Although the system has changed and depends on efficient standards, Porter said there remains enough flexibility to ensure each patient gets what they need.

Still, the way things work might look different from what patients were used to in the past.
For example, the trend is for patients’ care while in the hospital to be overseen by a hospitalist, a specialist who focuses on providing care in a hospital setting, rather than their primary physician.

That doesn’t mean the primary care physician is out of the picture. Some PCPs still maintain hospital privileges. Even if they don’t, and a hospitalist serves as a patient’s attending physician, the patient’s PCP will be kept informed about the patient’s progress, Porter said.

Porter is an internist who spent time as a hospitalist and administrator in other health systems before taking the post at Franciscan.

“Hospitalists are not a substitution for your primary care physician, because once a patient leaves the care of the hospital, they go back to see their regular doctors,” he said. “Hospitalists hope to work in concert and in cooperation with primary care physicians so that we take the best care of the patient.”

The details about a patient’s care during a stay in the hospital are documented, so primary care physicians can stay informed about their patients’ situation.

Porter’s responsibilities include not only overseeing operations for doctors and nurses, but other professionals, including social workers, case managers and other ancillary staff who contribute to patient care in a variety of ways.

He said the hospital has a strategic plan to achieve top ratings within the next five years, and he is personally and professionally committed to that goal.

“I’ve not only been on staff here, but I’ve been a patient here, and if the ambulance comes to pick me up from my house, this is where it’s going to take me,” Porter said. “So I have a vested interest in trying to make sure that this place is the best place that it can be.”

He said the hospital continuously expands and improves services. But in addition to implementing evidence-based treatment protocols to insure quality care and efficiency, he said the culture of the hospital is one that is welcoming and personal.

The values of the Franciscan sisters permeate the organization, he said.

“I think when you come here, you’ll not only find great healthcare, but you’re gonna find great people who stand on values that respect life in every facet.”

Porter’s family moved to Flossmoor about two decades ago. He had finished his military career in South Carolina. His wife was from Chicago, so he chose to attend medical school at Northwestern University.

It helped that Evanston had an Episcopal seminary. He is a priest, in addition to his medical career, and he has been the rector at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bronzeville for 19 years.

His wife’s sister and her husband live in Flossmoor, and the Porters would visit them. They decided the village would be a great place to raise their family.

“We loved the area. It was a place where our kids could play in the street and, we didn’t have to worry about paying for parking, like in the city,” he said.

Their children attended local schools and graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

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