HealthCare Business News interviewed Greg Feirn, CEO of LCMC Health about New Orleans health care post-Katrina and the latest shifts toward population management.
LCMC Health is made up of Children’s Hospital New Orleans, Touro, New Orleans East Hospital, Interim LSU Hospital and University Medical Center New Orleans (UMC New Orleans).
HBCN: How did your career path lead you to become a hospital CEO?
I’ve been in New Orleans for 16 years, working in various positions, including at Children’s Hospital, where I transitioned from finance to operations. I became the CEO of LCMC 10 months ago.
HBCN: Tell me what makes LCMC Health unique.
We have grown quickly because we had to. Hurricane Katrina significantly changed the hospital landscape in New Orleans. Charity Hospital, the safety net hospital for the city, was destroyed and University Hospital closed due to damage, which later reopened as Interim LSU Hospital. The State is replacing these facilities with the new University Medical Center, currently one of the largest hospital building projects underway in the country – its about a $1.2 billion project.
The facility is scheduled to open midsummer. The new hospital is being built to withstand any future wind and flooding threat. University Medical Center is at the center of the rebirth and redevelopment of the city, so it’s very exciting. We’re very proud to be partnering with the state through a management agreement to operate the facility. LCMC evolved when Children’s acquired Touro Infirmary, the city’s only community-based, nonprofit, faith-based hospital. Touro is the only birthing hospital in the city and we had a strong relationship with them through pediatric referrals. Since then we have gone on to develop management agreements with the new University Hospital that I’ve already mentioned, and an agreement with New Orleans East Hospital, a new facility that opened in 2014 to also replace a hospital destroyed in Katrina.
And we’ve recently signed an agreement to manage West Jefferson medical Center, which I believe will go into effect this summer. The sheer size of our patient settings and amenities we offer differentiates us. Patients want and expect quality and safety on demand. We also work with physicians across a wide range of practice models, from employed doctors in our academic centers to the medical staff in our community hospitals that have a strong tradition of the private practice model. This includes working with some physicians in stand-alone surgery and imaging center agreements.
HBCN: What should people know about LCMC Health?
We are the only private, nonprofit, full-service children’s specialty hospital in the state. We operate the largest birthing hospital in the state at Touro, which makes 3,349 deliveries a year. With the intensive care units in our facilities we are the referral center for the most critically ill patients in the state. We do not turn anyone away. We are also a significant player in both Louisiana State University’s and Tulane’s medical training programs, as well as research trials, such as in oncology. With our mix of services we take care of our population from birth to end of life, which includes the nursing home facilities provided at Touro. We have an experienced leadership team here at the system who are charged with helping each of the hospitals in our system to succeed in delivering the best in modern patient care.
HBCN: What are the biggest challenges at LCMC Health?
I think the single biggest shift is toward population management (keeping patients healthy). This is a big change. I see this affecting demand for inpatient services, with a leveling off and even declining. The new payment model (ACA) will focus on cost containment as services shift from inpatient to the outpatient. We have to focus to reduce care variation by managing outcomes. We have a challenging environment, all being driven by a move away from fee-for- service.
Information technology is the single biggest component of every decision I make now. All the devices in a hospital – from patient monitors to infusion pumps must have connectivity to the electronic health care record. This is a cost component that didn’t exist until recent years. But we’re still putting the latest medical technology and design into the new hospital to create efficiencies and patient safety. For example, there will be MRI in the operating room, so rather than move a patient out of the OR for imaging to check placement before the surgery is complete, we’ll do it right in the OR.
to view the hospital spotlight pictorial of UMC New Orleans, LCMC Health.