How A CEO Bounced French Hospital Back From Bankruptcy's Brink

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , August 5, 2009

In came Iftiniuk as CEO, and after talking with the doctors and the community and his bosses at CHW, he immediately launched a plan of attack. Here he describes 10 key steps to making the successful turnaround.

  • Convinced key former hospital executives to come back and terminated others who couldn't meet performance expectations, which boosted employee and physician staff morale.
  • CHW made a capital investment to improve the physical plant and shored up medical equipment.
  • Conducted community-wide survey with town-halls to find out what people wanted in their hospital.
  • Hired a vice president of medical affairs to help rebuild bridge to physicians in the community, and gave him a seat at the management table.
  • Infused the cardiac program with expertise and equipment with $4 million from Catholic Healthcare West and $5 million from philanthropic donations. Cardiac program is now in the process of becoming a county-designated STEMI receiving center.
  • Conducted employee satisfaction surveys twice a year, and allowed employees to help support the hospital's mission through a donation program.
  • Crafted a philosophy that if the hospital improves quality, safety and service, the rest of success will follow.
  • Conducted and incorporated patient satisfaction surveys. "The hospital culture became very metric driven," Iftiniuk says.
  • Established a Community Board Development with key business and community leaders and charged them with oversight responsibility. "Past boards had been ineffective, and not taken seriously," Iftiniuk says.
  • Created a hospital foundation with a separate board to connect with donors. The foundation has thus far raised $7 million for services in the community.
  • Focused on marketing and promotion through chamber mixers, direct mail newsletters and ads to get out a message that the hospital has changed.

The leaks are fixed. Many of the physicians have reactivated their staff privileges and last year, the reinvigorated and modernized cardiac program was recently named one of the 30 best community hospitals in Thomson Reuters' Top 100 cardiac hospitals, and the only one named in California.

There's a new 64-slice CT scanner, a cardiac MRI, two mobile C arms for imaging during vascular surgery and two state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization labs to better treat emergent patients. The "Brain Lab" offers cutting edge surgical navigation tools for orthopedic and ear, nose and throat specialists.

In 2008, it received a grant from the Hearst Foundation to open the Hearst Cancer Resource Center to bring cancer support and education groups together under one roof, free of charge for participants and visitors.

Average daily census for fiscal year 2008 is up 33% from fiscal year 2005.

Open heart procedures have increased 13%.

Emergency visits increased by 20%, because patients have more trust in the facility, and patient satisfaction with E.R. services was in the top tier of all CHW hospitals.

By most reports, the physicians, the staff, CHW and Iftiniuk have made sure the hospital won't ever become condominiums.

"He really has turned it around 180 degrees," says the Chamber's Garth. "The fact is that it went from being a substandard hospital to being a profitable, well-managed one."

*Based on Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development Calendar Year Pre-Tax Net Income.

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