In today’s healthcare environment there are a lot more questions than there are answers. I definitely do not know where healthcare will be in five years. However, I do know where Newberry County Memorial Hospital (NCMH) stands today and the goals and direction the 14 member Governing Board wants to move the hospital forward.
Let’s first understand Newberry County Memorial Hospital ownership and governance. Also let’s understand the clinical/fiscal position the hospital is currently operating in today during this tough Healthcare Environment.
• NCMH is a 90 bed licensed acute care hospital owned and operated by Newberry County.
• NCMH has a 14 member Governing Board appointed by Newberry County Council.
• NCMH is managed by Quorum Health Resources (QHR) in Tennessee that provides the Hospital Chief Executive Officer and the Hospital Chief Financial Officer.
• The Governing Board is responsible for the approval of the Capital Budget, the Business Plan, Operating Budget, the Medical Staff privileges to practice medicine at the hospital, the purchases of all equipment over $50,000 and all physician contracts.
• The Governing Board meets monthly and also attends subcommittee meetings (Quality and Finance) that meet monthly.
Specific Knowledge/Often Misunderstood
• NCMH is solely owned by Newberry County. There is no ownership now nor is there interest in ownership by any of the other healthcare systems.
• NCMH, although a small hospital, is very fiscally sound and is very strategically structured to survive the financial uproars in healthcare today. We have recently completed refinancing of the hospital’s Long Term Bond Debt which is less than $7 million in total.
• NCMH has received 15 awards in the past year for quality, patient satisfaction, patient and employee safety, and most improved in QHR, their management company.
• NCMH has an excellent Medical Staff and we continue to recruit and add new physicians to the staff. For a hospital of this size, the community is extremely lucky to have the quality of physicians and the level and types of specialty services right here in our own backyard.
• NCMH spends between $2.5 million and $3 million each year on new and updated equipment. This is the same state of the art equipment that the larger hospitals offer.
• Newberry County Memorial Hospital’s greatest assets are our employees. We have 462 very dedicated, quality employees that consider NCMH their home and many employees have worked here for over 20 years. In the past two years we have had at least six employees that left to work in larger hospitals in the surrounding area and all have returned to work here.
• The Emergency Department is an area of the hospital that many of you have utilized in the past three years. Many changes have been made in physicians, leadership, and employees in this area during this timeframe. We believe we have improved greatly in emergency care and we continue to strive to improve even more.
Beginning in August, we now employ five new full-time Emergency Medicine Residency Trained/Emergency Medicine Boarded physicians to provide medical services to our patients. The fact that you will see the same doctors each time and the fact they are also all living in South Carolina will, I believe, improve the delivery of care in the Emergency Department.
Also, as of May 1, 2017, we have replaced the Emergency Department nursing leadership with an individual who has over 20 years’ experience in our regional area. We have also seen employees return to NCMH in the ED that had left for larger hospitals but now choose to work at NCMH again.
• Leadership in all successful organizations must be held accountable, must be given direction and the tools to perform their functions, and must share in the overall goals and direction set by the Governing Board and Administration of the Institution. In the past two to three years there have been some changes in leadership at NCMH and I believe the replacements have brought added value to the organization. We continue to hold leadership accountable and I believe a good team is in place to take us through the difficult years ahead in healthcare.
The next few years for NCMH
• To provide the best quality care to the residents of Newberry County and surrounding counties.
• To reduce the outward migration to hospitals in Columbia, Greenville, and Greenwood for services that are provided at Newberry County Memorial Hospital. We recognize some services will not be able to be received locally however, we will have affiliation arrangements with physicians and hospitals that are acceptable to you and your local physician.
• To remain fiscally sound and not become one of the small hospitals that are sold, merged with a larger hospital groups, or even closed like you read about in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. This would not be good for Newberry County. Look at the effect it has had on some surrounding communities.
• We must hold leadership accountable to maintain high quality, to be cost effective, and to recruit and maintain quality employees. Unfortunately hospitals have to be managed as a business and with reducing reimbursement for hospitals we must continue to work smarter and not always harder.
• We must have the support of our community and residents. We understand you always have a choice as to where you will receive your healthcare. We believe we provide a very high quality – lower cost product right here in Newberry and we ask that you always consider Newberry County Memorial Hospital as your first choice in healthcare.
In closing, almost three years ago when I interviewed for the position of Hospital CEO, the Governing Board told me they were looking for three things in the next five years out of the new CEO:
1. To make sure that quality care was delivered to every patient and high customer service was demonstrated by all our employees.
2. To make sure the hospital continued to be fiscally strong and that Newberry County Memorial Hospital was able to weather the rough years ahead to remain an Independent Sole Community Hospital and not be closed, sold, or merged with a larger hospital group.
3. The new CEO must hold the leadership accountable and responsible to manage their departments efficiently, cost effectively, and to utilize the proper tools and employ the proper staff to perform the duties of their departments.
I believe you will notice that the direction of our Governing Board has not changed. I also believe we have so far accomplished many of these goals. We have room for improvement and we will always be working to get better.
As the CEO, I am personally very excited about the fact that Newberry County Memorial Hospital has excellent physicians, excellent employees, state of the art equipment and is fiscally sound.
We remain an Independent hospital although, you may hear in the community that Self Regional just bought NCMH. Self Regional purchased the Atrium Building/MOB that was in bankruptcy for several years. Other than that there is no legal affiliation or joint venture with NCMH and Self Regional. The Governing Board chose not to enter into any joint venture on the purchase of that MOB based on need and cost.
The community should be very proud to have the level of healthcare services right here in Newberry.
I thank you for your support and ask that you continue to support your local hospital so that we can remain independent and strong.
Bruce Baldwin is the Chief Executive Officer at Newberry County Memorial Hospital. His column “Ask Bruce” appears once a month in The Newberry Observer.