Trinity Muscatine experiences 8.5 million dollar turnaround

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

‘Millions of dollars in the black’ is a statement of fact, according to recent financial reports from Trinity Muscatine administrators. According to unaudited, end-of-year data, Trinity Muscatine finished in the black for the first time since 2006, a little more than two and a half years after initially signing a management services agreement - and later affiliating with - Trinity Regional Health System headquartered in Rock Island.

Faced with a mounting deficit that topped out at seven million dollars in June 2008, Trinity Muscatine, formally Unity HealthCare, was in danger of defaulting on its bonds. Low employee satisfaction and customer service survey scores, along with the financial situation, prompted a desire for change from the Board of Trustees.

Closing the hospital’s doors was not an option though. After several partnerships with consulting firms without much improvement, the board looked for a new approach to keep the hospital open.

In May 2008, Unity signed a management services agreement with Trinity, and in July 2009 the hospital became the fourth affiliate of the regional health system that operates three additional hospitals, physician clinics and other ancillary services in Rock Island and Moline as well as Bettendorf, Iowa.

Officials cite expanded operational resources, greater access to specialists and services and an attitude adjustment as contributing factors in the financial and cultural turnaround.

“The turnaround can be attributed to more than just one thing”, says John Beckey, Trinity Muscatine Board Chair, “intense process improvements, as well as the good will resulting from Trinity Regional’s outstanding reputation helped rebuild confidence in the community.”

One of the first changes was to improve operational processes like coding and billing.  A more accurate method of capturing costs along with bringing billing back in-house have helped decrease the time between when patients receive care and a bill is received.

"Issues surrounding billing were considerable. Accurate and timely billing was a priority from a financial perspective," says Angie Gabriel, Vice President of Finance, “the support and staff from TRHS have been a great resource!"

Another move was to hire an experienced administrator to lead the local turnaround. Jim Hayes was hired as CEO of Trinity Muscatine in June 2009.  Hayes brings more than 20 years in executive management positions and over 35 years in health care to the job. In previous roles, he demonstrated success in marketing, staff relations and community relations, foundation development and patient satisfaction. His most recent hospital prior to Trinity Muscatine, Greenville Regional Hospital, won the coveted Top 100 Hospitals award twice.

“With Jim’s direction, Trinity Muscatine has truly made an amazing turnaround,” says John Beckey, Trinity Muscatine Board Chair. “He has made some positive changes that have significantly altered the course the hospital was on.”

Expanded services and increased access to specialists through Trinity’s regional network of providers and expertise have contributed locally to Trinity Muscatine’s growth. In the spring of

2010, the hospital began a pain management service to address the needs of patients suffering from chronic pain in the community.

“We are very pleased by the clinic’s success.” says Linda Pace, Vice President of Patient Care. “This was a much needed service.

Prior to the clinic opening, patients wanting treatment of chronic pain were required to look for help out of town.”

A licensed mental health counselor from the Robert Young Center, an affiliate of Trinity Regional Health System, is currently seeing patients at the Muscatine campus.  A recent finding of the Muscatine Community Needs Assessment survey revealed that mental health services were lacking in the community. The addition of the counselor complements the substance abuse services, provided by New Horizons, and the pain clinic at the hospital.

Cardiologists from Trinity’s Bettendorf and Rock Island campuses also now have offices in Muscatine to see patients right in the community. If a higher level of care is needed, the cardiologists can coordinate that referral through Trinity’s heart program in the Quad-Cities, whose outcomes are consistently among the top in the nation.

The implementation of customer service training and standards of behavior expectations have also contributed to the improved patient experience. Staff at every level is now required to participate during the orientation process as well as in ongoing activities that reinforce the customer service and behavior standards.

“The community is coming back to Trinity Muscatine because we are rebuilding trust - trust that they will be treated with respect, and trust that they are receiving high quality health care services,” says Hayes. “Being financially stable means we can continue to invest in future expansion of services and providers. We are continually striving for the best outcome for every patient every time.”

Trinity operates four full-service hospitals in Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, and Bettendorf and Muscatine, Iowa, with a total of 595 licensed inpatient beds and 11 hospice beds, as well as 27 primary care and specialty clinics with 100 employed physicians. Trinity also affiliated witrh Trinity Visiting Nurse and Homecare Association, Trinity Home Care Products, the Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health, Trinity Muscatine Public Health, Trinity Muscatine New Horizons, Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Trinity Osteopathic Family Practice Medical Residency Program.