In so many ways, I can’t believe one year has gone by since I took on the interim role of president and CEO for St. Charles Health System.
It has been a remarkable 12 months. Before I pause to reflect on all that has happened, it’s worth revisiting my three main goals I shared with you in my July 2022 column:
- Create a better experience for St. Charles patients, caregivers and physicians.
- Improve the health system's financial situation.
- Find and hire an inspiring new president and CEO to lead us forward.
Since then we’ve weathered extraordinary challenges, and we’ve made exceptional progress. We reorganized ourselves around service lines, streamlined decision making and renewed our focus on and investment in our people. Our turnover rate has stabilized at below pre-pandemic levels. Month after month, people are choosing to work for St. Charles and are choosing to stay with us. Financially, we have maintained a positive operating margin for the first half of 2023 at a time when health care finances remain uncertain throughout the state and nation.
I hear regularly from grateful patients about the excellent care they receive at St. Charles. That makes me incredibly proud because I know that excellence happens one patient at a time, but creating conditions for excellence takes perseverance, focus and a continuous improvement mindset. Across the health system, we have maintained a care delivery environment we can be proud of, not just because we provide that care to the communities of Central Oregon, but because it is as good as care delivered anywhere.
Like many of you, I am deeply concerned about the state of health care in America today. I fear that despite our best efforts, St. Charles will continue to face intense external pressures and we will see little in the way of relief from insurers, policy makers and regulators. We are beginning to work on a three-year strategic plan to ensure we are all rowing the boat in the same direction. We are also continuing our focus to reduce administrative burdens through negotiations with insurance companies by evaluating our ongoing participation in Medicare Advantage plans. We hope to share more about both of these important efforts soon.
It’s easy to see how much we’ve accomplished toward the first two goals I outlined one year ago. When I wrote out that third goal, I fully intended that we would find someone other than me to serve permanently as CEO. Instead, working alongside our great caregivers, physicians and providers inspired me to stay on, and I remain energized to keep building upon our recovery and to preserving, strengthening and evolving our services sustainably into the future.