"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Walking the Talk

Like it or not, Bob Chrencik, the President and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical System is walking the talk.  He repeatedly warned the Health Services Cost Review Commission, legislators, the Governor and the media that if the 2% impact of the Sequester was not addressed by the HSCRC that UMMS would be forced to layoff staff directly impacting programs and services.   Left with no choice, UMMS is laying off over 350 employees; impacting staff and operations in Baltimore and on the eastern shore.  

In her recent update to the Maryland Hospital Association, Carmela Coyle, President and CEO, reported that the Governor is going to bat for two cruise lines at the Port of Baltimore because of the EPA's new cleaner fuel mandate.  The Governor is lobbying the EPA to obtain a waiver to save 220 jobs and the $90 million that the cruise lines pump into the economy.  Yet, hospitals across the state, in addition to UMMS, are having to reassess staff and programs in order to address the ongoing cuts. 

According to Carmela, hospitals account for almost 100,000 jobs in Maryland and contribute about $26 billion into Maryland's economy.  The financial condition of hospitals across Maryland has worsened to a level that I haven't experienced in my 23 years in Maryland health care.  Is change necessary to reduce the cost of health care in Maryland and across the country, most certainly.  Is there a better way to do that rather than simply cutting funds, one would think so.  The model used by the HSCRC to assist WMHS with our transition to a new payment methodology (TPR) was to provide us with upfront dollars to assist with a transition to a new model of health care delivery. 

Last year was a challenging year for us, but we were able to survive those challenges.  We ended up directly impacting around 28 employees while eliminating over 100 positions.  The upfront TPR monies helped to ease the impact on other positions at WMHS.  The transition has allowed us to better care for our patients in the most appropriate setting rather than everyone being admitted to the hospital.  Our intention over the next three years is to share the savings generated with those who pay for health care in Maryland and within our communities.  That's a model that works and similar models should be explored further in an effort to save hospital jobs going forward.

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