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Community Hospital Blog

Partnership
Valuing Relationships through a Storm

by Mary W. Poole, Director of Public Relations, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas

 

Proud to serve residents of Beaumont, Texas and surrounding areas, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas' employees, physicians, and volunteers share a vibrant bond with our community — a heartfelt connection which became evident earlier this year in the face of Hurricane Harvey. Although hurricanes are not new to the city of Beaumont and surrounding communities on the Texas Gulf Coast, we won’t forget Harvey. We remember vividly the teamwork and community cooperation.

 

Hurricane Harvey roared ashore at the end of August 2017 becoming a tropical depression as it moved inland. Cities were underwater and Beaumont was no exception. Major roadways into Beaumont from Houston were virtually impassable due to rain and flooding. Disaster preparedness plans for area hospitals were put to the test including the BHSET Beaumont campus, a 483-bed facility.

 

This weather event crystallized the meaning of relationships in an environment where lives intersect daily, and reinforced the importance of disaster preparedness.

 

Key takeaways: a summary

 

Be prepared. The week before the hurricane’s expected arrival, BHSET’s disaster plan came into sharp focus. The plan included arrangements organizing the delivery of food, supplies, and water if needed; vendors were placed on standby. As a result, many vendors came to our aid during the storm, bringing needed supplies and support as the days passed.

 

Communication is key. Seventy-two hours before landfall we started setting up our incident command center. With food, fuel, medical supplies, linens and pharmaceutical supplies secured, our next focus turned to preparation of our employees. On any given day, everyone within our organization is aware if they are on the A, B or C storm teams.

 

Preparing your staff is as vital as preparing your facility. As Hurricane Harvey saturated Southeast Texas with over 66 inches of rain in a three day time-frame, access to clear and concise information for our employees and medical staff was a top priority before, during and after the storm. With information outlets established via website, an employee/physician app and a 1-800 number, family members, staff and physicians had access to information that they needed and to allay fears.

 

To communicate with the public, we leveraged our long-standing media relationships built on transparency and trust to share critical information.

 

Relationships matter. BHSET leaders serve on various community boards, community participation inspired by CEO David Parmer. Groups include the Rotary Club of Beaumont, the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and the March of Dimes along with various business and industry groups such as the Texas Hospital Association and many others.

 

Partnerships like these were priceless, and with strong community involvement, we were able to weather the storm. Medical organizations and neighboring communities offered a plethora of assistance. From “duck boats” for transporting waterlogged employees to the City of Nederland providing vital drinking water, our long-lasting commitment to the community proved to be our biggest asset.

 

Expect the unexpected. No two storms are exactly the same, so learning from each one is a key to success. During Hurricane Harvey, the water came up so fast that it covered the water treatment plant in Beaumont, immediately leaving the entire City of Beaumont without “potable” water. We did not anticipate losing city water; this was a game changer. We then faced the difficult decision to discontinue services, transferring patients to nearby acute care facilities with expert assistance from the National Guard, local and neighboring air services, Black Hawk helicopters and ambulances.

 

 

The adjacent city of Nederland was a dynamic partner and friend, delivering containers of water we so desperately needed. During and after the storm, vendors brought patient care supplies, gift cards and more.

 

Give thanks. As we approach the holidays, there’s no better time to give thanks. Thank you to everyone who helped us continue to provide compassionate care and services despite Hurricane Harvey, reinforcing our commitment to making a difference in our community, one patient at a time.

Tags: Community Service, Disaster Preparation, Partnership
Beating the Odds in Rural Healthcare

By Wilson Weber, Executive VP and COO, CHC

 

Rural hospitals operate as a healthcare safety net for smaller

communities, where demographics tell the story about these community-based hospitals. Patients tend to be older than those at urban or suburban hospitals, many patients are uninsured, and rural facilities have to maintain emergency rooms and beds for acute care even if they see fewer patients. In the last five years, Congress has sharply reduced spending on Medicare, and this decline in reimbursement rates has been particularly challenging for rural hospitals.

 

Along with the need for hospitals and healthcare services, our rural hospitals need more primary care physicians (PCPs) to care for patients. According to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are 68 PCPs per 100,000 people in rural areas, compared with 84 per 100,000 in urban areas. Approximately 65 percent of primary care health professional shortage areas are in rural counties, according to Rural Healthy People 2020. This lopsided geographic distribution makes it doubly difficult for rural hospitals to maintain the health of their communities.

 

Like any business, a hospital’s financial well-being is tied to expenses and revenue. The tried-and-true formula is to increase revenue and reduce costs. That’s simple enough — yet bottom-line results for a rural hospital mean more than just the numbers. Employees, patients and the surrounding community depend on the hospital’s continued success.

 

In spite of the challenges, some community hospitals are seeing better financial performance. Let’s examine some actions they are taking to improve the bottom line.  

  1. Identify areas needing improvement. Begin by looking at the basics. For example, Yoakum Community Hospital in Yoakum, Texas began working to qualify the payer status of patients prior to admission. Self-pay patients may qualify for Medicaid or another reimbursement source. This step alone can make a significant difference in increasing revenue. 
  2. Strengthen physician relations. Great Plains Regional Medical Center includes physicians in leadership positions to enhance relationships between hospital executives and physicians. Currently physicians account for roughly one-third of the hospital's board, so they have a voice in the hospital’s strategic decisions. Hospital-physician collaboration can improve quality and cost efficiency. And because a significant part of the growth and success of a hospital is dependent upon the right mix of physicians and specialists, creating or revising your medical staff development plan should also be on your “to-do” list. 
  3. Benchmark performance against similar hospitals. Compare clinical data. This is a great way to identify opportunities for improvement and potential cost saving, and facilitate movement toward value-based care.
  4. Think about partnerships. If internal improvements aren’t sufficient, community hospitals may want to consider forming relationships with other organizations. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of a potential partnership. What is the community hospital expected to provide? What amount of control they will cede for the expected benefits of the partnership? Make sure cultures are aligned and define expectations at the start.
  5. Ensure board involvement. Your board can be your biggest advocate and ally. When board members are better educated about their responsibilities, including overseeing finances, clinical quality and strategy, their support and ideas can be invaluable.

Financial stability is the solution to beating the odds in rural healthcare. Find out more about how CHC is helping hospitals.

 

Tags: Affordable Care Act, Hospital Performance Improvement, Operational Improvement, Partnership, Strategic Direction
Mike Williams Receives Collier Award for Distinguished Health Care Administration

CHC is pleased to announce that President and CEO Mike Williams is the 2014 recipient of the Texas Hospital Association’s highest honor, the Earl M. Collier Award for Distinguished Health Care Administration.

 

The award recognizes distinguished executives’ contributions to, and leadership in, the healthcare industry, as well as their active participation in THA and other industry groups. Williams’ colleagues and clients express how fully he qualifies for the award in the short video you’re about to see.

 

 

THA’s bestowal of this award upon Williams indicates how highly he is respected outside the organization, says CHC board chairman Ken Gordon. Williams is a frequent national speaker on the preservation of community hospitals, drawing from his experience growing CHC from a one-employee operation in 1997 to an industry leader with a corporate staff of 60 and hospital clients in 25 states.

 

All told, Williams has 30 years of experience in executive management.

Tags: Hospital Management, Operational Improvement, Partnership, Strategic Direction
Turnaround program improves hospital’s profile and prospects: Memorial Health System of East Texas, Lufkin, TX

After six decades of regional prominence, Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin, the flagship hospital of a four-campus system in East Texas, weathered a multi-year trend of dwindling patient volume and cash reserves resulting in a bond rating downgrade. Determined to get back on track, hospital leaders hired CHC to design and implement a turnaround program to restore the hospital’s financial health and credit, as well as the system’s prospects as a whole.

 

Recently, the system announced a strategic partnership made possible in part by the turnaround program’s impressive results.

 

Read the full case study for more.

 

Learn about CHC's Turnaround Services

Tags: Operational Improvement, Partnership
CHC webinar recap: Evaluating partnership opportunities

A Jan. 30 Becker’s Hospital Review webinar presented by Mike Williams, president and CEO of Community Hospital Corporation (CHC), offered best practices and a case study for community hospitals looking for a partner. 2012 saw the most merger and acquisition activity among hospitals in two decades, Williams said, and the trend is expected to continue in 2013 as many community hospitals — faced with healthcare reform, decreasing reimbursements and other challenges — acknowledge the need for some type of partner.

 

The case study presented by Glenn Robinson, CEO of Hillcrest Health System in Waco, Texas, demonstrated how Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center saw significant improvements —including the strongest financial year in its history — after partnering with Scott & White, with guidance from CHC.

 

When considering a partnership, community hospitals first must assess their needs and potential gains in seven key areas:

  • Community need
  • Clinical service breadth
  • Physician alignment
  • Revenue
  • Managed care leverage
  • Compatibility of purpose or mission
  • Reputation

Read the entire Becker’s Hospital Review article here.

 

Download a recording of the presentation here.

 

Download the PDF version of the presentation here.

Tags: Hospital Board Advisory, Independence, Partnership, Strategic Direction

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