MUSC division moving the financial needle 'in a major way,' CEO says

Over the last year, Charleston, S.C.-based MUSC Health's Midlands division, which includes three hospitals and an emergency and imaging site, has significantly increased revenue, enhanced cost control initiatives and offered more services.

The MUSC Health-Midlands Division, led by CEO Matthew Littlejohn, includes MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center Downtown, MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center Northeast, MUSC Health Fairfield Emergency and Imaging, MUSC Health Kershaw Medical Center in Camden, and all associated medical practices and affiliates.

The division has moved the "financial needle in a major way in the past year," Mr. Littlejohn said. "This is not happening [in] very many places across the country in a time period where healthcare is getting tougher, and places and margins and financial sustainability are going down. We're doing the opposite at a scale that you don't see in many places these days."

In 2021, MUSC acquired four sites in the region from Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint for $75 million. The transaction was part of the system's goal to serve more patients throughout South Carolina and  establish a footprint in more rural areas, such as Kershaw, S.C.

The three hospitals that it acquired were ripe for improvement and have seen a significant expansion in services over the last three years. 

"A lot of what we've been doing in the Midlands is becoming more well-rounded and balanced as an organization," Mr. Littlejohn said. "We've added new options for patients that historically have not been here, whether it be urology, colorectal surgery, retina surgery, plastic surgery. That's all new for us."

The Midlands division has also fostered a culture of discipline in terms of how it measures success, according to Mr. Littlejohn, who served in various executive roles at Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems before joining MUSC in 2023. 

He previously served as network CEO for CHS in North Carolina — which includes Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville and Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville — and director of strategic planning and project management at Bon Secours Health System in Greenville, S.C., before returning to Columbia, his hometown, for a role with MUSC.

"Coming into Columbia, being from Columbia, it's one degree of separation. I feel like everybody here knows me or knows a friend or knows my family," he said. "I think that has caused the team to buy into change quickly and get on board with what we’re asking them to do. It's allowed us to expedite this improvement plan."

Mr. Littlejohn's improvement plan focused on developing a unified vision of what the three hospitals in the division should be doing to best serve their communities and patients. 

"I think now, if you were to ask any of our leaders, they know exactly what success looks like for their area," he said. "What we want patients to know is that we are very focused on providing the highest-quality care. At the end of the day, they don't care that volumes are growing and finances are improving. I think what patients care about is quality."

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