Medina hospital wants to seize ‘window of opportunity’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Leaders of Medina Memorial Hospital see an opportunity to attract more doctors and patients following the closing of Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport.

MEDINA – It doesn’t happen too often on the local health care landscape, a chance for a rural hospital to grow and have money to invest in capital improvements.

But Medina Memorial Hospital and its parent organization, Orleans Community Health, have a narrow window to position the organization for a long-term future in the county, said Bruce Krenning, chairman of the organization’s board of directors.

The organization has about $4 million in a reserve account from the sale of the Orchard Manor Nursing Home. It also has one less competitor for local health care services following the closing of Lakeside Memorial Hospital.

“We have this window of opportunity and we need to seize it and go forward,” Krenning said today, a day after Jim Sinner resigned as CEO and the board hired a health management firm to serve as interim management and also work as a consultant.

HealthTech Management Services will provide management support for the hospital and Orleans Community Health, while performing an assessment of the organization.

The firm is based in Franklin, Tenn. and manages 20 small hospitals, including one other one in New York, the Adirondack Medical Center. HealthTech provides consulting services to 60 other hospitals.

Mike Lieb flew up from Dallas and met with staff and the media today. He will be temporary CEO until Dolores Horvath begins as interim CEO on July 8. She works for HealthTech and is completing another assignment for the company.

A day after CEO Jim Sinner resigned from Medina Memorial Hospital and Orleans Community Health, a new team met with hospital staff on Tuesday. Bruce Krenning, board chairman for OCH, is pictured at left with Diane Bradley, regional clinical coordinator, and Mike Lieb, temporary CEO.

HealthTech will bring a fresh perspective to Medina’s organization, perhaps finding ways to utilize proven strategies from other hospitals, Lieb said. He also expects to learn from Medina’s operation, and take some of its strengths to other healthcare organizations, which are trying to maximize narrow profit margins.

Both Lieb and Krenning want to assure the public that the Medina hospital is on solid financial ground.

“This is not something to panic over,” Lieb said. “We see a lot of potential here.”

That’s why Orleans Community Health hired a firm to assess the hospital’s current operations and identify opportunities for growth and long-term sustainable, Krenning said today.

The hospital recently expanded to Albion with a healthcare facility at Butts Road and Route 31. The timing of that center, with the closing at Lakeside, has Medina poised to reach out to Albion and eastern Orleans. Lieb and hospital leaders will meet with physicians affiliated with Lakeside, urging them to align with Medina and Orleans Community Health.

“We’ll talk with the area physicians as fast as we can,” Lieb said.

The University of Rochester Medical Center announced last week it is buying Lakeside’s Brockport hospital and plans to reopen it in August as “Strong West.” Krenning expects the organization will make a push for patients in Orleans.

He believes Medina Memorial and Orleans Community Health have made several good moves recently, upgrading technology at the hospital, expanding to Albion and selling Orchard Manor.

HealthTech has an experienced team that can help Medina and OCH capitalize on its assets and make any other needed improvements, Krenning said.

HealthTech will provide the CEO for at least the interim, but the remainder of the management team at Medina will stay. The board of directors also retains control of the organization, Krenning and Lieb said.

“We won’t be cramming something down their throats that doesn’t work for the community,” Lieb said.

OCH may eventually pick a long-term CEO affiliated with HealthTech or it could go outside that organization. HealthTech offers a lot of advantages for the Medina Memorial and OCH during this transition, Krenning said.

“The strongest benefit will be having outside eyes,” he said about HealthTech’s role. “They have tremendous experience.”