Rogers Memorial Hospital: Dr. David Moulthrop, President & CEO

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Rogers Memorial Hospital, Wisconsin’s oldest, unaffiliated, not-for-profit, behavioral health provider, serves citizens across the nation and internationally. To appreciate the growth and success of this organization one needs to understand the rich history upon which Rogers Memorial has built itself.

In 1907, when Dr. Arthur Rogers and his wife, Theresa, bought 200-acre estate with a 32-room, Italian-style mansion on the shores of the Nashotah Lakes, mental health was not considered a medical condition. Dr. and Mrs. Rogers opened the Oconomowoc Health Resort only to have the facility burn to the ground within a year. Rogers rebuilt, and, through time and the growth and development of behavioral healthcare in the United States, the 4-story replacement structure became what is today Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

The recent history of Rogers Memorial begins about 15 years ago, when the hospital converted to a medical model of psychiatric care and the Board of Directors hired David Moulthrop, PhD as its President and CEO. Managed care at that time was pushing a lot of psychiatric hospitals to close the doors and Rogers Memorial was on the verge of closing, as well. “We decided to do two things,” says Dr. David Moulthrop, President & CEO of the organization. “One of the strengths of the hospital at that time was that, even though it was in big financial trouble, it didn’t have a lot of debt … We decided to adopt a medical model of care and compete for managed care business with a commitment to quality and cost containment. We also decided to develop specialty residential programs that could also serve a self-paying patient.”

Diversity of Behavioral Health Services

Within a few years, the hospital was operating in the black. A residential program for eating disorders was developed, soon followed by a chemical dependency program for impaired professionals. Residential programs were also developed for obsessive compulsive disorders as well as services created specifically for children and adolescents. On a national level, Rogers Memorial was able to offer a boutique of behavioral health programming that was attracting patients on a self-pay basis.

Locally, the hospital began competing in the managed-care market. By 1999, the hospital was operating at full capacity and looking to expand. A for-profit psychiatric hospital in Milwaukee put its facility up for sale about that time, and Rogers Memorial jumped at the chance to buy a second site. This gave Rogers Memorial the ability, not only to increase their client base, but also to become part of the community in a whole new way. “What we really wanted to do was to make a contribution to the healthcare community in the Milwaukee area. We understand how to do behavioral health and many hospitals struggle to provide that service in a cost effective way,” says Moulthrop.

Rogers Memorial began by introducing the organization to the surrounding healthcare community and forming partnerships that have lasted and strengthened the behavioral health services in the community. In 2001, they joined forces with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to develop a child and adolescent behavioral health day treatment program. A partnership with Froedtert & Community Health system in 2003 was the beginning of Rogers Memorial providing management of behavioral health services at Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls, and in 2005 they established similar consultation services in partnership with Columbia St. Mary’s for that hospital’s behavioral health programs. . Today, Rogers Memorial operates or owns eight different sites throughout Wisconsin with revenues of just under $100 million. Eight hundred employees driven with a passion for behavioral healthcare provide acute inpatient services for all ages, residential programs which continue to attract patients from a national and international market and partial hospital and day treatment programs.

“Our centennial year was in 2007,” says Moulthrop. “At that point we started to think… We’ve been around for 100 years, how do we exist for the next 100 years?”

Strategic Advancement through Corporate Restructuring

The conclusion was that the diversity of services was working for the organization. While each specialty might have been marginally profitable, collectively, they have kept the organization viable. “We felt that a continued diversification model was going to be the key to our future, but we no longer could see the inpatient bed as being the center of the universe as it once had been. Rather, our knowledge and proven expertise in behavioral healthcare was our core strategic asset that would drive our future,” says Moulthrop.

Recent corporate restructuring has created Rogers Behavioral Health System, the parent corporation. The Behavioral Health System consists of four key corporations including the Hospitals, Rogers Partners in Behavioral Health, Rogers Center for Research and Training and the Rogers Memorial Hospital Foundation. The Rogers Center for Research and Training consults with the hospitals to assure quality clinical programming, provides clinical trials, assures the quality of hospital outcome studies and is committed to raising the profile of effective behavioral health treatment through its national speakers series and workshops.  Rogers Partners in Behavioral Health provides consultation and behavioral health strategic planning and management for area hospitals as well as a growing managed care division for employers and physician billing services. The Rogers Memorial Hospital Foundation is working to develop a $30 million endowment fund over the next ten or fifteen years in order to ensure the continued independence, strength and agility of Rogers Memorial. The Foundation, additionally, provides limited scholarship dollars to assist patients needing to extend their treatment and covers the cost of the Hospitals Spiritual Care program.

Quality Facilities

The bulk of the organization’s capital investments have gone into physical plant improvements and expansion. The organization has spent around $25 million in the last three to four years on additions to the original Oconomowoc facility and the facility in Milwaukee. A new lakefront residential treatment facility for the well-known Herrington Center for chemical dependency is scheduled to be complete by September of this year.

“In a 100-year-old organization, it’s easy to defer physical plant needs,” says Moulthrop, but the organization is making up for such deferments with an eye to the future. “We’re a free-standing, not-for-profit, psychiatric hospital. There are not too many of us left, and the reason is that it is very tough, financially, to make these things work. We consider ourselves very fortunate that we have been able to remain independent.” Yet, Moulthrop admits, “With this economy, we’re vulnerable because we have great residential programs that are dependent on a self-pay and highly-insured patient base. How long will people be either adequately insured or be able to continue to afford to pay for these programs? There’s no question that they’ll need them, but how will they be able to access them?”

Moulthrop sees the country moving toward nationalized healthcare, and says that how that will be organized in regards to behavioral healthcare remains to be determined. “Then there is the concern of our mission,” he says. “We are here to provide behavioral healthcare, and as people become unemployed… These are highly stressful times and these stresses are going to reverberate through society. These people are going to need these services that we provide, and we have to answer the question. How do we best maintain our mission and maintain financial viability in the long run? We will stay focused on our strengths, stay true to our values and will proactively position ourselves for the future.

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