It’s a new year and with it all the optimism that comes with new starts. 2008 was a challenging year in many respects, especially the fight to maintain fiscal success when Medicare and Medicaid reimburse GRMC at only 67 percent of costs. When the dust settles, we will realize about $7 million below what we spent taking good care of these two patient populations last year! Even though we reduced staffing costs through attrition (well over $1.5 million over expenses in 2007) we will still experienced a multimillion dollar loss from operations. Despite this financial black cloud, 2008 had many bright spots because of the dedication and compassion of many committed people. From our volunteers and board members, to our medical staff and employees, people make the difference at GRMC.
A few of the accomplishments of this past year (a year we celebrated 40 years since the merger of St. Francis and Community Hospitals) included outstanding strides in our quality, patient safety, and service excellence journey. Measured in superior patient satisfaction and patient outcome scores, we know the quality of our work is the central focus of what we do everyday. It ranks us at the top of providers nationwide. The work of our quality leadership team was evident with Rapid Response, Condition H, zero central line infections and ventilator associated pneumonias, TeamSTEPPS participation, the new Patient and Family Care Council, to name a few.
Another highlight of 2008 was the amazing financial support from the community. In a year marked with historic economic hardship in our country, our annual fund drive established a new record with over 1,100 donors and $313,000 in gifts; a 35 percent increase over 2007! This follows the wildly successful capital campaign that concluded in 2007 and raised a whopping $8.3 million. The Auxiliary kicked in over $30,000 more in support for equipment purchases last year. Without this outpouring of support and generosity from the community we certainly could not be the hospital we are today.
On the medical staff front, we added two new anesthesiologists (Drs. Whipple and Emge), a new pain specialist (Dr. Pavlovic), a new family physician for Deer Creek Health Center in Toledo (Emil Pecholt) and a new internal medicine physician (Dr. Lindgren). In addition we added three new physician assistants: Kristin Leonard, Sarah Fedderson, and Jarrod Phelps. Each of the above has excellent training and clinical skills and the personality focused on caring, compassion, and teamwork. A great year in medical staff recruitment in deed.
Another highlight for the year included articles in the Des Moines Register about our efforts to stimulate community supported agriculture; Modern Healthcare regarding the “Tweener” Medicare issue; the Cedar Rapids Gazette touting our efforts to raise $16,000 for employees from St. Luke’s Hospital that lost their homes in the spring floods; and USA Today extolling our integrated medicine programs! It is fun to get state and national recognition for the efforts of our employees to make a better world.
Finally, the acts of kindness, the hallmark of our efforts to fulfill our mission of service, to the community were evident daily. Despite the financial challenges, I am proud of my colleagues that call GRMC home and refuse to let government payment get in the way of caring and curing!
2009 will no doubt have its own challenges; however I am convinced we will not only meet those challenges, we will make it a better year financially with resolve, commitment, and an attitude of service to the communities we serve.
On a personal note, 2009 marked a change for me as I hit my 15th year at the helm of GRMC. It will be a year without my friend and colleague Todd Nelson. After 18 years, Todd was recruited to provide leadership at the Healthcare Financial Management Association in Chicago. His devotion to a job well done; his commitment to integrity; his amazing work ethic; and his determination to make GRMC the best it could be will be missed. I wish him well and look forward to working with him in his new role in advocacy and policy development for healthcare CFOs across the country. He will be extraordinary in this role and the country will be better off for his efforts. Here is the candy bar poem we wrote him as he left:
Our time together has been (Good & Plenty). Over the last 18 years you have been a (Life Saver) to us, and not a (Milk Dud).
Before you hit the road, we wanted to (Take 5) and give you some helpful advice:
-Don't be an (Airheads) in your new job.
-Be a (Red Hots) financial advisor to all those CFOs.
-Please, please never stop acting (Nutrageous).
-Treat everyone like a (Sweethearts) and not a (Dum Dum).
-Don't let the $ slip through your (Butterfinger).
-Work hard and Fridays will be a great (Pay Day).
-Leave the (Goobers) in your nose.
Do all these things and your new coworkers will love you to (Pieces). (Kisses) Your friends at GRMC.
Sparky, now that you hit the (Big League), don't go on a shopping (Spree)! Remember we had (Mounds) of (Snickers) mostly because you're such a (Nerds). Honestly, we think you're worth a (100 Grand) and we even asked Nate and Thad and they said their (Pop Rocks)!!!
The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.