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Lessons for Leaders of Distressed Hospitals

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By Anthony Sudduth, CEO, Southwest Health System

Last year, Southwest Health System (SHS), in Cortez, Colorado, found itself in the midst of a significant financial crisis. The hospital had violated bond covenants associated with a $32 million building project, failing to meet the 80 days cash-on-hand requirement for four consecutive quarters. This violation triggered technical default, which could have led to bankruptcy and closure. Instead, SHS acted swiftly and decisively, becoming not a cautionary tale but a comeback story and an inspiration.

The SHS turnaround is a bright...


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John Yeary, CEO, Freestone Medical Center

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Service Isn’t Seasonal: Give Back to the Community All Year Round

GUEST BLOG

By John Yeary, CEO, Freestone Medical Center

The holidays are a time for giving and gathering. However, for hospitals, community involvement and giving back should be year-round priorities. This is especially true for hospitals serving small, tight-knit communities.

The CEO should set the example. For my part, as chief executive of Freestone Medical Center in Fairfield, Texas, I started simply by joining the Rotary Club. I’ve since found that each connection I make tends to create others, developing synergies that benefit both the hospital and the community. The...


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What Would We Do Without Local Medical Care?

by Regina Keilers, Publisher, Fayette County Record, La Grange, Texas

I found myself in need of medical care again recently. The details of what was wrong are not really the important part of the story, what is important is how I was cared for.

I had a small spot on my arm (probably a bug bite) that was red and seemed to possibly be infected. I put some antibiotic cream on it and covered it up hop-ing that would take care of it. After a couple of days, (on a...


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Community Hospitals Are Economic Engines. How Are You Fueling Yours?

Metaphors commonly used to describe community hospitals underscore their importance to the regions they serve. They’ve been called economic engines, cornerstones of the community, and, by Forbes, the “financial glue” that holds communities together. Community hospitals tend to be one of the top employers in town, so when one closes, there are more consequences than traveling farther for hospital care.

Still, community hospitals are closing at a dispiriting rate—87 shut down in 26 states from January 2010 to July 2018, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. Countless...


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Rural Matters Podcast Features Karen Barber & Jim Kendrick

Rural Matters, a podcast featuring issues important to Rural America, recently spoke to Karen Barber, CEO of Yoakum Community Hospital, a 25-bed critical access hospital in Texas, and Jim Kendrick, president and CEO of Community Hospital Corporation, a non-profit whose mission for 22 years has been sustaining healthcare in rural markets.

Kendrick shared that it is often difficult to recruit enough physicians to serve the community. Barber explained that her facility recently had to close their labor and delivery department as a result of an aging population, low volume for deliveries,...


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Rural America Needs Critical Access Hospitals

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Rural America Needs Critical Access Hospitals

By guest author Paul Lee, Senior Partner & Founder, Strategic Health Care

National policy in support of rural healthcare has been lacking for more than a decade. Critical access hospitals (CAHs), in particular, are struggling due to inattention at the federal level.

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last month released its first strategy to improve healthcare in rural America, the eight-page document did not include specific policies. It states that CMS will “apply a rural lens to CMS programs and policies,” but whether this translates into...


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Hospital Business Planning Best Practices

Vital to an organization’s future, a business plan is a framework outlining the steps for financial and operational success. For many hospitals, this process has occurred at five-year intervals tied to strategic planning efforts. However, in today’s healthcare environment marked by ongoing industry, reimbursement, and market shifts, development of an annual business plan offers leaders a greater measure of security and flexibility to manage change.

Best practices for your hospital’s business planning include:

Align business planning efforts with strategic initiatives

Getting started, associate business planning efforts with strategic goals and...


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The Far-reaching Impact of Your Hospital’s Cost Report

Ever-expanding in complexity, cost reports influence current and future reimbursement levels for your hospital. Think of a cost report as an annual report with numbers instead of words. Far-reaching in scope, mistakes can result in lost revenue that may profoundly affect your hospital’s sustainability and ability to effectively serve patients.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires Medicare certified hospitals and other Medicare reimbursable provider facilities to file cost reports annually that identify the costs and charges related to facility Medicare reimbursable activities. Acting as annual reconciliations, these...


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Physician-Hospital Engagement and Alignment: Healthy Practices

Community hospitals can strengthen bonds with physicians through proactive engagement that is genuine and mutually beneficial. Foremost, it’s optimal to consider the physician point of view, from their clinical practice and other commitments, to perks that may drive growth strategies long-term for all parties.

When physicians understand how working together with the hospital can help them provide better care for their patients, it’s a win-win. Among the benefits cited by physicians and healthcare system leaders in a HealthLeaders survey on physician alignment, positive outcomes can be:

Greater confidence in hospital leadership...

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Turn Around Efforts Start with a Look at Operations

Hospital leaders may recognize the need for improvement but may not know where to turn. Even before a hospital shows signs of financial distress, the responsible action is to take a close look at areas of operations. Since operations span the entire hospital, a head-to-toe operational assessment may be warranted to fully address financial and performance issues.

Taking a thorough look at operations may seem daunting. Consider starting with an evaluation of outsourced contracts; some may have been in place for years and can be renegotiated or even eliminated. Below...


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