A CEO’s Perspective on Rural Healthcare in Western Kansas

A CEO’s Perspective on Rural Healthcare in Western Kansas

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Newsbeat had an opportunity to visit with Mr. Scott Taylor, President and CEO of St. Catherine Hospital, Garden City, Kansas which is located 185 miles west of Wichita. Scott provides a unique perspective with extensive experience in health care beginning initially as a staff pharmacist upon completion of his BS degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. His healthcare journey has included serving as a Director of Pharmacy, an assistant hospital administrator and as a COO of the Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, Texas prior to assuming his current CEO position at St. Catherine Hospital on June 1st, 2005. Additionally, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration from Trinity University in San Antonio while serving in his administrative capacities.

Newsbeat: “Scott, could you tell us about St. Catherine Hospital and how the medical landscape has changed in western Kansas since your arrival in 2005?”

Scott Taylor: “When I arrived, St. Catherine was a community based hospital not unlike several of its peers. Over time it has become a regional referral center for southwest Kansas and eastern Colorado as evidenced by the fact that 40% percent of our referred patients do not reside in Finney County.”

Newsbeat: “What types of services have fueled this transformation?”

Scott Taylor: “St. Catherine has added on-site, 24 x7 cardiology with interventional expertise. We’ve added infectious disease, grown from one to four orthopedic surgeons, successfully recruited a Mayo Clinic nephrologist who is also head of our ICU team and, more recently, we have successfully recruited hospitalists in order to provide more complete inpatient coverage for our sicker referral population. We also partner with Kansas Heart Hospital for cardiac surgical services and educational programs such as the annual spring cardiovascular symposium held at St. Catherine Hospital.”

Newsbeat: “What is the name of your parent healthcare organization?”

Scott Taylor: “St. Catherine Hospital belongs to Catholic Health Initiatives or CHI which has 78 member hospitals including St. Catherine Hospital and our facility in Great Bend, Kansas. CHI is based in Denver and is the second largest non-for-profit hospital system in the country.”

Newsbeat: “How do you see the healthcare reform changes affecting your hospital and smaller western Kansas hospitals?

Scott Taylor: “Healthcare reform has major implications for all hospitals. There will be more patients, particularly, the Medicaid population, and compression of reimbursement to hospital providers. These present challenges and also opportunities for all of us. In western Kansas, there are a number of 25 bed critical access hospitals who will find it challenging to meet the financial commitments mandated by the government to achieve electronic medical records, for example. Capital to purchase new equipment or update current equipment will be especially challenging for these smaller hospitals. Kansas has the greatest concentration of critical access hospitals in the US and, nationwide, less than one-half of these hospitals currently are able to make a profit. St. Catherine because of its size and CHI support is in a position to assist and align with its smaller counterparts in our region.”

Newsbeat: “What has been your most satisfying experience as CEO at St. Catherine Hospital?”

Scott Taylor: “We have been able to grow both in volume and stature as a referral center which means patients can now receive sophisticated care in the region without having to travel to Denver, Wichita or Kansas City for many different surgical and medical services.”

Newsbeat: “What do you foresee happening in western Kansas healthcare over the next five years?”

Scott Taylor: “That is a difficult question. I wish we could predict future state and governmental policy which will affect both our Medicare and Medicaid population. We will have to do more with less while still supporting our mission to take care of the sick as well as the under insured and uninsured. Possibly consolidation of smaller hospitals in the region or alignment with regional facilities with economies of scale and better inherent efficiencies will help keep the doors open at the smaller rural hospital(s).”

Newsbeat:“Thank you for taking time to provide us a perspective on this very fluid and ever-changing healthcare environment!”