Health care has to be selective in how it grows, CEO Donald Babb says. He’s pictured with Lesa Stock, left, chief clinical officer, and Cathy Molder, executive assistant.
SBJ file photo
2017 Dynamic Dozen No. 10: Citizens Memorial Healthcare
SBJ: What has been key to your recent growth? Donald Babb: A lot of it has been the fact of us bringing a lot of new physicians in and the continued growth of new program, services and facilities, and just trying to meet the needs of the communities we serve, listening to what they tell us. Our growth has been pretty significant since we opened the hospital 35 years ago. The more services we bring in, the more physicians we bring in and the farther we grew out into the outlying counties, the more growth it brings into the organization.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth? Babb: The biggest thing is trying to determine – in looking at the historical data that we have and then the data that the state maintains – what kinds of services we can bring here to keep people from having to travel. We evaluate that at least once a year. A lot of that is specialty health care and physicians that allow us to bring new services in.
SBJ: Is your fast growth sustainable? Babb: We plan our growth. If we plan it for this year and it doesn’t happen, then we go back at the end of the year and re-evaluate it and determine whether or not it’s something we need to keep on the table for future growth. In most cases, yes it is. The only thing that changes is reimbursement from the government and how they pay you for the services you provide.
SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast? Babb: Growing too fast becomes a problem. You can feel like you’re getting really, really pushed. We’ve been in that situation in the past and have tried to not get in that situation again. Sometimes the things in our area that give us some problems is you’ll find a facility that someone wants to sell to you. It’s in your area, like a long-term care facility. If they make sense after you look at them, you don’t want to turn them down. You may have two or three more programs you want at the same time.
SBJ: Where is the tipping point? Babb: In health care, you have to continue to grow, but you have to be selective in how you grow.
That’s the key to it. With the reimbursement that you get from the government – it gets reduced every year, it’s never increased – you have to figure out how to manage it. It’s a balance on how you do the things we do in health care and make it work. The other issue you deal with now is finding staff. There’s so many opportunities for people who go into health care. They can basically go anywhere and find the kind of job they want and be successful at it. Unemployment is really low, and that also is a big issue – just finding those people that you need.
SBJ: Have your goals changed as business has taken off? Babb: The change in the economy has allowed us to expand some programs we were holding on to. We’re still in the due diligence (phase of the CoxHealth merger). We really haven’t looked at programs and services. We’ve just looked at the internal pieces to the organization, like contracts, all the things you go through to look at how the business is run and how the bottom line is acquired. Once we complete that, we’ll go on to the process of getting state and federal approvals.