At a time when rural hospitals across the country are closing their doors, an Oklahoma facility is thriving.
McAlester Regional Health Center just finished its fiscal year more than $3 million in the black. This is the third profitable year following years of major losses. The favorable trend, despite the challenges of the Affordable Care Act and reductions in reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid, has allowed the hospital to again offer pay raises for employees and reinvest in its infrastructure. The turnaround has also allowed the hospital to successfully establish a Family Medicine Residency Program and recruit specialists in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pulmonology, Urology, Ophthalmology and Cardiology.
How did hospital accomplish these successes?
"MRHC has a talented team of executives and employees with a passion for excellence, and a visionary board of trustees – all a recipe for success," said CEO David Keith.
Keith and the rest of his executive team developed a strategy of identifying areas for improvement. For instance, patient and employee surveys helped the team define the most evident elements of service and infrastructure that could be improved upon. As a result, cafeteria hours were adjusted and a remodel is now under way; heating and air-conditioning units are being replaced, and executive administrators routinely make rounds on each hospital floor to meet with employees and patients.
Other improvements were expedited or continue to be tackled. For instance, the city-owned facility was often impeded by a 1970s funding mechanism in the city charter that limited borrowing to $500,000. A ballot measure set for late August asks voters to raise that limit to a less cumbersome 5% of assets, which is expected to ramp up growth even more.
McAlester Regional is more than just a hospital. Its portfolio - serving all of Southeast Oklahoma - also includes an Urgent Care Center, Health and Wellness Center, Outpatient Physical Therapy program, Sleep Center, Dialysis Centers in McAlester and nearby Eufaula, and a Doctor's Building that houses primary care practitioners and specialists. MRHC recently expanded its imaging services to include a Diagnostic Imaging Center in downtown McAlester, with plans to move its Women's Center to the same location. A Wound and Hyperbaric Center opened at the facility in June.
The progress has not gone unnoticed. CEO Keith and his team have received accolades from peers and several organizations; the hospital itself was voted as the "Best Place to Work" by readers of the local newspaper, and Partner of the Year by the local vocational school. Employees and staff are consistently recognized for their work both for the hospital and for the community.
"The culture at MRHC is changing to one of enthusiasm and innovation," Keith said. "MRHC will continue to provide services to Southeastern Oklahoma for a very long time."