Monday, December 27, 2010

A Message from the LifeBridge Health CEO

by Warren Green, CEO, LifeBridge Health

As I look back on the year we are about to end at LifeBridge Health, it strikes me that we have so much to be grateful for. We are blessed with a terrific staff (more than 7,000 strong) who demonstrate every day their commitment to our patients and our communities. I will always be proud that LifeBridge Health was named to the Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” along with Apple Computer, Google, Four Seasons Hotels and Nordstrom. It shows that we recognize the incredible talent and dedication of our LifeBridge Health team, and that we have put programs and services into place to nurture our employees.

In spite of the challenges we faced with the massive economic downturn in the country, we continued our forward momentum in 2010. Ground was broken for the new Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai, as well as the new pavilion and first phase of construction at Levindale. New programs, such as the Women’s Wellness Center at Northwest Hospital, were launched. And, we have received some wonderful gifts supporting programs and facilities throughout our system.

As gratifying as it is to look back on what has happened, it is crucial that we direct our gaze forward and try to anticipate, as best as possible, the new world that health care is entering. Only a few months ago, national health care reform legislation was signed by President Barack Obama, forever changing the way care will be provided to millions of Americans.

One thing that I feel certain about is that demand for the services we provide is going to increase. By the year 2014, we expect that more than thirty million uninsured people in this country are going to carry plastic cards which will give them access to care that they live without today. And the senior population will continue to mushroom. We see now that the fastest growing segment of the population is seniors over the age of 85. The trend is bound to increase, and this spells more demand for health care services.

At the same time, we are also bracing for steep cutbacks in the growth of health care spending. This is coming at a time when both federal and state governments are financially stressed due to the worldwide recession. What is emerging for us is a classic case of having to do more, but for less.

LifeBridge Health isn’t alone in facing this new reality, for hospitals everywhere will be affected much the same. But I have confidence that we will rise to the occasion and continue our forward momentum. Again, our greatest asset is our people, and we have already shown that in this region, there are none better.

In order for LifeBridge Health to remain strong, a number of initiatives must be undertaken. High on the list is the need to bond with physicians. In spite of all the change taking place, it will still be true that doctors will decide where patients go for care. For that reason, our energies have been invested in strengthening existing, and creating new relationships with physicians. Over the past year, a significant number of new doctors have joined the LifeBridge Health team, and we expect this trend to continue.

We must also redouble our efforts to ensure patient safety and assure good outcomes. Increasingly, the government and insurance companies are going to punish those institutions that have high readmission rates, or commit costly errors in the care of their patients. Fortunately, our profile looks very healthy today, but the bar is going to continuously be raised, and we can’t relax our grip on best practices.

And, too, we must work even harder to provide superior customer service, knowing that patients will want to be cared for at those facilities that treat them with courtesy and respect. Again, we do this well—but not nearly well enough to be self-satisfied.

I predict that 2011 will be a great year for LifeBridge Health and its people, in spite of the pressures that we face. In years past, we have always done what was needed in order to be successful, and we will again and again. I’d like to thank each member of the LifeBridge Health family for his or her loyalty, support, and the skills every person brings to bear.

Above all, I wish every LifeBridge Health staff member, physician and volunteer a joyous and healthy holiday season, and my best wishes for fulfillment in the year ahead.

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