Memorial Hospital of Carbon County: Ned Hill, Chief Executive Officer

by HCE Exchange on July 18, 2013

Ned-Hill-thumbTucked away in a small corner of the United States is a hospital with a big mission: “to become the most exceptional healthcare facility in the country.”

Memorial Hospital of Carbon County (MHCC) is a 25-bed critical-care facility that has a catchment area of about 16,000 in south central Wyoming, along with five clinics and radiology and lab services.

Charting a new financial course

Chief Executive Officer Ned Hill came on board about a year ago to help turn the hospital around financially, renewing the facility’s mission to provide an exceptional experience for patients. MHCC is vital to the community it serves, with no other hospital located within 100 miles in all directions of the county.

“We want to provide a phenomenal experience from a care standpoint as well as availability and access,” Hill said. “Maintaining the ability for patients to receive care locally is one of our initiatives.”

MHCC works with specialists from neighboring towns to see patients in Carbon County on a regular basis. The hospital is also experiencing growth with increased volumes and good physician recruitment efforts.

When Hill joined MHCC, he first focused on pulling together physicians, staff, and the community to re-evaluate how resources were being used. His goal was to reduce overall costs.

“With volume growth and cost containment, we have gone from an operating loss to a much stronger profit margin,” Hill said. “Teamwork has been the key to achieving that. From the governing board to physicians and staff, everyone has been committed and on board.”

Setting a high standard for transparency

As a publicly funded hospital, transparency has also been a major factor in the hospital’s financial success. Hill said the administration has made an effort to teach managers and staff how a hospital works from a financial perspective. Of every $1 charged, staff is shown how much remains toward the bottom line after insurance is billed and expenses are paid.

The community is also informed regularly of the hospital’s expenses and reasoning behind the charges patients receive. At monthly board meetings, MHCC will give financial statements to the newspaper. It will also share information with the public on investments, such as spending $1 million on a new MRI scanner and how long it will take before the hospital can recoup that initial investment.

“I think people are usually surprised when they see what it costs to run a hospital,” Hill said. “We run small profit margins, have highly trained, highly educated, licensed individuals working for us. It is a unique environment.”

Providing a phenomenal patient experience

With cost-containment measures working, Hill said MHCC is stepping up its focus on the care experience patients have.

“We want to get to a place where the community is proud of our hospital,” he said. “Where we are providing care at the same quality level as any large facility in the country.”

Thanks to a bond the County Commissioners sponsored and approved through a constituent vote, the hospital was able to invest in an $8-million renovation of its surgical suite, with two surgery rooms, an endoscopy room, and a recovery room, and a six-bed intensive care unit. Furthermore, MHCC recently moved into a new physician clinic and purchased a new Toshiba MRI scanner to enhance its imaging services.

Hill said the hospital is following all core measures and other reported quality and safety measures, and it is encouraging the community to receive regular screenings to improve overall outcomes for patients.

“People who get annual screenings have far better outcomes in the long run,” he said. “We have the technology to detect illness early and save lives. So we are trying to educate the community about that.”

Hill added that it is important for community hospitals to share how they are being good partners for everyone — physicians, patients, communities, and staff. Most small hospitals work to provide the best care at the lowest cost possible.

“Hospitals are sometimes misunderstood as far as services provided and at what cost,” he said. “I encourage anyone who wants to, to sit down and learn how hospitals run. Administrators can educate staff, communities, government leaders, and others of the ins and outs of the industry.”

-by Patricia Chaney

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