St. Louise Hospital’s new director focuses on tech

St. Louise

St. Louise Regional Hospital’s new chief medical officer wants to see the 93-bed medical center grow, incorporate cutting edge technologies and focus on the newest cancer treatments.

Dr. Arthur Douville takes over the helm of the South Valley’s hospital, as well as San Jose’s O’Connor Hospital on Jan. 2. The sister hospitals are owned by Redwood City’s Verity Health Systems, which was formerly Daughters of Charity Health System, and owns four hospitals in Northern California and two in Southern California.

“It’s not a backwater,” Douville said in response to a reporter asking why he left bigger facilities in the county. “The facility is a crucial element of medical care in the community for starters. Look at its location, between Hazel Hawkins and Kaiser. It’s the only significant medical facility in the area with a growing community, new people coming in, new businesses. I think it’s a crucial part of the community. You’re going to be surprised at what’s going to happen at St. Louise.”

Among his wish list is improving the emergency room, which now has eight beds that serve 30,000 patients a year. The hospital already has a cutting edge telemedicine system and was the first in the area with a robot that worked for emergency stroke victims, linking them to specialists in Los Angeles. Douville studied St. Louise’s stroke program when he was at Good Samaritan Hospital and used it as a model.

“There’s nothing wrong with it now, but I want to keep following up as a leader in telemedicine,” he said. “When I looked at the stroke program, I was amazed at the efficiency. St. Louise can be a leader in some ways for the kind of facility it is, a smaller center for medical care in the community.”

Verity’s management wants to make high quality cancer treatment a focus for its hospitals, he said. “We want to leverage the expertise of an urban medical center.”

Douville said he’s concerned about possible federal cuts to medicare and Medi-Cal.

“We should all be concerned about the effect on hospitals being able to provide safe and practical care,” he said. “But I think technology and better communications among caregivers will allow us to overcome any of these challenges.”

He scoffed at an assertion by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) that emergency rooms should be allowed to turn away patients and refer them to walk-in clinics or their own physicians at a later date. A federal law passed under President Ronald Reagan required emergency rooms received Medicare funds to treat all patients. Before that, some hospitals turned away patients who couldn’t afford treatment.

“That simply contravenes medical ethics and everything that is required for hospitals these days, as well as normal human compassion,” he said. “That’s Tennessee, not our community.”

Douville was raised in Kansas, outside Kansas City, Missouri and got his MD from the University of Kansas, before moving west to study neurology at Stanford. He’s been in medicine for 30 years, including stints at Good Samaritan and Mission Oaks hospitals.

St. Louise Regional Hospital opened in 1989 as Saint Louise Hospital in Morgan Hill. The hospital moved to Gilroy in 1999.

Dr. Douville’s wife, Sherri, works for a startup called Medigram, which is a mobile communications software at data aggregation service that works with healthcare teams. The couple lives in Los Gatos.

Dr. Art Douville

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