Our recent successful turnaround at Southwest Health System continues to receive recognition. Community Hospital Corporation (CHC) recently selected SHS to be the subject of a case study demonstrating the impact of the changes that were necessary to ensure the long-term survival of SHS.

As you know the primary (Stage 1) focus was to find major issues and solve them quickly enough to assure the organization would survive.  The case study CHC just published focuses on that remarkable turn-around.  The link to that case study is: https://communityhospitalcorp.com/lessons-for-leaders-of-distressed-hospitals/.

So, year one is over and I could not be prouder of the work all of you have done to turn this organization around – it is because of your hard work, willingness to adapt and your amazing resilience that have made this possible. This was only the start as now we move on from survival to the second stage to ensure our continued success.


We have worked through the survival stage and year two’s focus is to stabilize our position to assure we continue moving in a positive direction. We are continuing to find and address opportunities, building cash and continuing to build and strengthen relationships with our community, our staff, our lenders and our boards.

Here are a few examples of what we are working towards and have accomplished this year.

  • PAY INCREASES: Last year we froze raises as part of the “Survival Plan”, annual performance increases will be reimplemented in August with a potential 4% increase, based on your individual evaluation.
  • EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: By the end of July I will have visited every department to review the employee engagement results with you and your respective leaders with the goal of assuring we are looking at and addressing areas where we can improve our employee experience and thereby improving our patient experience. Communication and leadership are a huge part of ensuring our teams success and our senior leadership team is fully engaged in addressing those items that can facilitate our staff’s professional success. In addition, over the next few weeks we will be sharing the results of the PROVIDER ENGAGEMENT survey with our SHS providers so we can continue to improve their experience as well.
  • HOSPITAL COMPARE RATING: I have mentioned before how impressive it is that during our time of turmoil you have continued to step-up and continue to provide excellent patient care to the extent, we have experienced impressive increases in our patient satisfaction scores. Well now that improvement in not only patient satisfaction but also our quality scores has resulted in our SHS rating on the Medicare Hospital Compare Web-site to increase from a 3-star to a 4-star.  Again, only due to your hard work and continued focus of making our patients your priority.  I expect we will continue to see this improve and fully believe a 5-star rating is in our future.
  • COMMUNICATION: We continue to build on our focus of improved communication with all our stakeholders including the MCHD Board, the SHS Board, our Lenders, the Community and our Staff assure we are maintaining complete transparency on our financial, operational and strategic position and vision for the future. We are committed to continuing our monthly employee forums, and our quarterly community open forums in addition to publishing relevant financial information on our web-site.  We also just added internal support in the form of a Community Relations Manager, Linsey Yeager, to ensure our community and staff are engaged and receiving information through community events and involvement, social media, and internal communications through multiple platforms.
  • CAPITAL PLANNING: We are working with the SHS Board and the MCHD Board to address significant capital needs to address the infrastructure items that have been ignored for years while being cognizant of our cash flow needs and restrictions resulting from our debt covenants. This year we will be developing a 5-year capital plan to address these needs as well as the internal capital equipment that also must be addressed.
  • SOLIDIFYING LEADERSHIP: The hiring of a permanent leader for the clinics was a critical step in our on-going success. The clinic staff have experienced significant upheaval through this entire process. With the hiring of Kerri White and her assuming Clinic Leadership as SMG-Chief Operating Officer, we will put another piece in place to assure the continued growth and success of our clinic practices.

STAGE 3: STRETCH: Once we address the forbearance requirements and continue to demonstrate our long-term viability, we can look to the future and further serve our community. As we continue with the trend of positive cash flow, we look to address the following priorities:

  • Correct infrastructure issues mentioned above in the older portions of our buildings
  • Update/Expand our ER
  • Fully integrated EMR for the Hospital and Clinics
  • Continue to market and expand to regain market share
  • Focus on improving the image of Southwest Health to assure that SHS is the preferred provider for all patients in our service area
  • Continued focus on employee engagement to also assure SHS is the preferred healthcare employer in our area


Thanks to our staff, the SHS Board, the MCHD Board, our Lenders, CHC and everyone in the community that we are here to serve – Thanks for being a part of this amazing success story.


PATIENT COMPLIMENT: I received a very nice letter this week from one of our former patients thanking the staff for taking excellent care of her this past year during multiple stays. In the letter (Copy attached to this email) she closed with the following:

“Please know that I will continue to tell everyone I know about your excellent hospital and you, the wonderful and dedicated people that work there. I deeply feel you need to be recognized more for the excellent healthcare service you provide for the people of Montezuma County and the surrounding area. And also, what a valuable gift Southwest Memorial is to this community.”

I could not agree more with what she says and what a great ambassador she will be for this organization.  I hear these comments all the time and I am never surprised.  It is this type of recognition that will move us toward our goals.  Thank you for your impressive work.


NEXT WEEK – PUBLIC FORUM:  On Wednesday next week will be our quarterly community forum with the SHS and MCHD Boards in the EMS Ambulance Garage.  We wanted to switch it up a little and hopefully have a more relaxed environment (and some snacks/refreshments) to facilitate further public comments.  Your participation would be greatly appreciated.

As always, thanks for all you do to support our mission and make SHS a truly remarkable success story.