Maria Parham announces restructuring

Readers may be interested in this complimentary article in today’s Daily Dispatch regarding the hospital’s bond status. — Ed.

Maria Parham Medical Center has contracted with FTI Cambio Health Solutions, a national consulting firm that specializes in developing financial and operational plans that improve hospitals’ overall performance.

According to David Ruggles, Director of Marketing and spokesman for the medical center, who spoke to Home in Henderson in a telephone interview, every potential area in the hospital will be examined for inefficiencies.

Ruggles went on to say that although the hospital is not looking to reduce the workforce, that layoffs would probably be the result. He stated emphatically that the number reduced would be “significantly less than 100 people”.

Maria Parham completed a $50 million new patient tower and renovation project during the last twelve months and this factor, combined with others, including a slow local economy, reimbursement pressure from third party payors, and rising costs associated with supplies and technology, have caused the hospital to take strides in becoming more efficient to improve its financial condition.

“We’re doing nothing different than any other business in the world does,” Ruggles said.

When asked whose idea it was to build the $50 million tower, Ruggles replied that it was the hospital’s idea. He stated that the existing structure is 40 years old, and that a discussion about an additional facility had been going on for years.

Ruggles also stated that the decision had been made five years ago to pursue the building of the tower.

Regarding the tower, Ruggles volunteered, “The focus needs to be on the fact that the economy around Henderson is not doing well. The number of non-paying people increases…it has an effect on your bottom line.”

Management will work with the Cambio team alongside employees and physicians to bring staffing levels in line in each department with appropriate national benchmarks established for community hospitals. It was announced to employees at “town meetings” last week that there would be targeted reductions in staff this summer.

Maria Parham employs approximately 650 employees.

In addition to labor expenses, the hospital will be addressing other improvement opportunities including managed care contracts, revenue cycle issues, physician practices, and the supply chain. Many of these activities will enhance revenues. The hospital has seen solid growth in utilization in 2006 compared to 2005, according to Ruggles. Inpatient admissions, emergency department visits, imaging studies, outpatient surgery and endoscopy studies, and oncology visits are among the services that are attracting more patients.

Ruggles added, “Maria Parham is an independent, private, non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors. Non-profit, however, does not mean that the facility can maintain viability without a strong, positive cash flow. With the necessity to invest in quickly changing technology and the desire to attract and keep the best healthcare providers, we must make a reasonable net income to continue to provide quality healthcare.”

When asked about the hospital board of directors, Ruggles replied that it was a volunteer board and that the administration tries not to have them in the public eye. He did inform Home in Henderson that the chair of the board of directors is Ray Meeks, a local businessman.

Bob Singletary, president of the hospital, expressed optimism for the future of the medical center, citing its strong medical staff, leadership on the Board of Directors, outstanding community support, plans for economic development in the four county area, state of the art facilities, and a commitment to quality service and quality care by its employees. He said, “Healthcare is a dynamic field and Maria Parham is taking action now to position it for changes ahead and to become a stronger organization so that we can continue to provide excellent care for our citizens.”