These Returns Are In
Sentara Chief: Obama Or Romney, We’ll Improve System
Posted: October 6, 2012
Sentara Healthcare CEO David Bernd says his company’s strategic plan will proceed no matter who is in the White House. (Photos by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
“No matter who wins the White House,” Sentara CEO David Bernd says, his health care system will “continue to work on streamlining our processes, increasing quality of care and reducing the cost.”
David Bernd, CEO of the 11-hospital integrated health system that includes Rockingham Memorial Hospital, said the industry must manage care better and redesign primary care to better deal with chronic diseases.
“No matter who wins the White House or which party does the health care policy … we’re still going to continue to work on streamlining our processes, increasing quality of care and reducing the cost through collaboration in the system,” Bernd said.
Bernd, now in his 40th year with Sentara, spoke to local business and civic leaders at a luncheon Friday at Spotswood Country Club.
Changes ushered in by President Barack Obama’s health care reform law were a driving factor behind RMH’s decision to affiliate with the Norfolk-based organization. The deal became official last year.
Reductions in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, along with a greater emphasis on efficiency in patient care, have driven many hospitals to partner with larger networks. Only six hospitals in Virginia are not part of a health care system, Bernd said.
“I think it’s a reflection of the economic times,” he said, referring to complicated bureaucratic rules and growing technology mandates.
Beyond the financial benefits, such as easier access to capital and combining resources, Bernd pointed to the benefits of sharing data and practices.
For example, RMH is implementing a Sentara bedside change-of-shift practice for nurses, enabling patients to be more engaged in decision making. On the flip side, he said other Sentara facilities are learning about best outcomes for central line bloodstream infections from RMH, an area it excels in.
When RMH announced plans two years ago to affiliate with Sentara, some people in the community expressed concern that the hospital would lose its community identity.
To that, Bernd recalled a question prior to the deal from the RMH board of directors, in which they asked what kind of impact he wanted to see one year after the merger.
“I told them that I’d like to see the effect on the community be negligible,” he said. “We wanted to bring the benefits without affecting the quality service or the perception of [RMH] in the community. I think we’ve done a good job.”
No decision has been made on whether RMH’s name will change to reflect the Sentara partnership. The Sentara name is tacked in front of most hospitals in the network. Potomac Hospital, for example, is now Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if sometime in the next year or two we do some kind of adjustment” involving the name, said Jim Krauss, president of RMH.
The agreement with Sentara stipulates that RMH’s name wouldn’t change during the first two years of the partnership, which officially started on May 1, 2011.
Contact Doug Manners at 574-6293 or email@example.com