CEOs' top healthcare pain points

As Hospital Week comes to an end, Becker's connected with hospital and health system CEOs to get their take on some of the biggest issues they would like to see addressed in the healthcare industry.

Workplace violence, financial distress, hospital closures, and the need for cost control are just some of the issues top of mind for these leaders over the next few years. The importance of celebrating and working with healthcare workers at their organizations to develop solutions and address some of these challenges was also noted. 

The below responses provide an expanded look into the challenges needing to be addressed in healthcare to improve outcomes for healthcare workers, their patients and communities alike. 

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

David Goldberg, President and CEO of Mon Health System (Morgantown, W.Va.), Executive VP of Vandalia Health (Charleston, W.Va.)

Question: As a healthcare leader, what does Hospital Week mean to you?

David Goldberg: As we reflect on nurses and now Hospital Week, we are so grateful for the highly skilled and patient-centered professionals staffing our healthcare organizations. 

Q: What hospital issues would you like to see addressed in the next year?

DG: Ongoing cyber threats and impacts, continued pockets of staff shortages, higher acuity post-pandemic, and community care needs never stop being in focus for Mon Health System. 

Q: How can we address these issues? 

DG: Adding an election year dynamic and consternation between parties at all levels of government impact policies, regulations, and care expectations. A major focus of ours continues to be support from regulators, payers, and policy makers to ensure they stay reasonable on the burdens being placed on us. 

Artificial Intelligence tools, vertical and horizontal consolidations across the industry, ongoing margin pressures from the inflationary environment with high interest rates all remain focus areas for us to ensure high standards in care delivery during turbulent times.

J. Stephen Jones, MD, President and CEO, Inova (Falls Church, Va.)

Question: As a healthcare leader, what does Hospital Week mean to you?

Dr. J. Stephen Jones: For me, Hospital Week is always about celebrating our people – it’s about honoring the commitment, resilience and teamwork that define our healthcare community.  It’s also a reminder that every role, no matter what that is, is essential in providing world-class care to our patients. Over the years we have taken meaningful steps in showing our team members how much we value and appreciate them. The doctors and nurses are obvious and always get recognition, but every single person performing every single bit of this complex work we do is our focus in Hospital Week. We use Hospital Week as a key moment to reinforce this commitment and express gratitude for those tireless efforts, long hours and unwavering compassion that our team members bring to our patients every day.

Q: What hospital issues would you like to see addressed in the next year?

JSJ: Workplace violence and incivility. Our healthcare workers dedicate their lives to caring for others, so caring for them and ensuring their safety is a top priority. Being attacked physically or verbally is never an acceptable part of their job and they shouldn’t have to fear for their safety while caring for patients.  

Q: How can we address these issues? 

JSJ: At Inova, we have a zero tolerance policy and we've implemented several initiatives to combat workplace violence, including a robust reporting structure that not only encourages team members to report incidents but ensures they receive the support they need.

Q: Any additional thoughts you'd like to share on hospital week?  

JSJ: Hospital Week is about celebrating the people who make a difference every day, acknowledging the issues they face and fostering an environment where they feel valued, supported and cared for.

Kerry Heinrich, President and CEO, Adventist Health (Roseville, Calif.)

Question: As a healthcare leader, what does Hospital Week mean to you?

Kerry Heinrich: During National Hospital Week, I celebrate the skills and dedication of each person who helps our mission come to life. Great healthcare is a team effort, and Adventist Health's team comprises over 38,000 talented employees, physicians, allied health professionals and volunteers. A patient may only meet a few people on their care team, but each role is essential to creating lasting health and wholeness.

Q: What hospital issues would you like to see addressed in the next year?

KH: Coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, many California hospitals faced financial distress, leading to service reductions and a path to closure in more severe cases. When hospitals close, it becomes difficult for communities to access the healthcare they need, crucial not only during emergencies when minutes matter but also for preventive screenings and tests that can add years to patients' lives. Everyone deserves the chance to experience quality healthcare, regardless of where they live.

Q: How can we address these issues?

KH: Over the last few years, Adventist Health has had the opportunity to expand our footprint, keeping care local in several urban and rural communities. Adventist Health White Memorial Montebello, formally Beverly Hospital, joined in the fall of 2023. 

Our first steps were to open a newly refurbished intensive care unit and resume emergency transports to the hospital. On May 1, 2023, Visalia Medical Clinic (VMC) affiliated with Adventist Health and expanded access for VMC patients to comprehensive care throughout the area, including in Hanford and Tulare. In June of 2023, we welcomed Mid-Columbia Medical Center, now known as Adventist Health Columbia Gorge. Adventist Health stepped in to maintain and enhance the immediate and long-term financial viability of the local hospital, advancing rural healthcare in The Dalles, Oregon. 

Also in June of 2023, Bakersfield Heart Hospital joined Adventist Health. This spring, we renamed the hospital Adventist Health Specialty Bakersfield and are so proud of the way our two Bakersfield campuses work so closely together to enhance local patient care. The former sites of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and Twin Cities Community Hospital in the San Luis Obispo area joined Adventist Health in March. We are committed to providing access to the full continuum of care that our patients deserve and that is absolutely essential to the community.

Q: Any additional thoughts you'd like to share on hospital week?

KH: I am proud to honor our associates who support the health of our patients and communities each and every day.

Marlon Levy, MD, Interim CEO of VCU Health System (Richmond, Va.)  and Interim Senior Vice President of VCU Health Sciences

Question: As a healthcare leader, what does Hospital Week mean to you?

Dr. Marlon Levy: National Hospital Week provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the unwavering dedication of each and every team member. Every day, our doctors, nurses, social workers, technicians, administrative staff, support staff and chaplains work together to provide exceptional and comprehensive care to anyone who needs it from across the Commonwealth and beyond.   

As we celebrate National Hospital Week, we are reminded of the importance of healthcare in our communities. Our patients and their families rely on us every day to provide the care they need to lead healthy, happy lives. We are proud to have the best and brightest health care professionals in the country, who are dedicated to our mission of preserving and restoring the health of all Virginians. 

Q: What hospital issues would you like to see addressed in the next year?

ML: The top hospital issues that I’d like to see addressed over the next year include:

- Cost control in an overall inflationary time

- Workforce wellness and stabilization post-pandemic 

- The cost-burden of replacing aging infrastructure

- Managing the ever-increasing demand for complex care delivered by academic medical centers

Q: How can we address these issues?

ML: We can address these issues through continued relentless focus in each area. 

Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Sutter Health (Sacramento, Calif.)

Question: What hospital issues would you like to see addressed in the next year? How can we address these issues?

Warner Thomas: At Sutter, we see many opportunities in the coming year to expand health care access. A huge part of that is ensuring we have strong, diverse and well-supported teams in place to care for our patients, which means that expanding medical education and training are essential parts of the equation.

Sutter is enhancing our graduate medical education and training programs, as well as establishing new partnerships with colleges and universities to broaden pathways to careers in medicine. We are now on pace to become the largest community-based health care training institution in Northern California--training and graduating 1,000 resident and fellow physicians each year by 2030, and each year thereafter.



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