Last year, we spotlighted Children’s Hospital at Erlanger.
This year, we visited with Mark Kimball, CEO of Erlanger Murphy Medical to learn about the first facility Erlanger has acquired outside of its home state of Tennessee. The acquisition was official on April 1 and Kimball started his position on June 4. He spoke with HCB News to provide details on his background and some of the rationale for the acquisition, as well as the goals set out for the medical center.
HCB News: What inspired you to follow a career in healthcare?
My first job after I graduated college was as vice president of the Albany Darty Economic Development Committee in Georgia. I had a wonderful mentor, and our job was to recruit business and industry to our area. It gave me a lot of personal satisfaction that I was part of a process that helped people create jobs and wealth in our community and region. I enjoyed the work, but knew it was not my calling. My boss was recruited away and asked if I wanted to join him in Atlanta, but I turned him down. Shortly after, Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany, Georgia approached me about a new position. They called and told me they wanted someone with the skill set to connect healthcare with business and industry and they thought I could be that person. I went and interviewed and that’s how I got involved in healthcare. It was a good match for me because I was still part of a process that helped people in our community and our region with their needs. I was part of a process that brought a lot of service and value. At the end of the day, it gave me a lot of personal satisfaction. I had a lot of great mentors there as well as at other places during my career that helped to shape me and mentor me to where I am today.
HCB News: What attracted you to Erlanger?
There were a number of reasons. First, the geographic location – I’m a native of South Georgia. My wife is from Georgia as well, we have family here. I’m an avid outdoorsman, I went to school at University of Georgia and spent a good bit of time in North Georgia, camping and really enjoying the outdoors. Also, with the location of the hospital, the communities it serves were a big interest to me. Another reason was the organization itself. When I interviewed and met with the leadership, they had a compelling vision and strong leadership. The system continues to grow. That was another plus. When I dug in a little more, I realized there was a chance that we could capitalize on great potential at Murphy’s. When I was looking at all the services here, I saw it wasn’t your typical rural hospital. There were a lot of service lines, but they were being underutilized. I felt we could come in and be a part of a process that could help grow our services, not only for Murphy, but also the region we serve. The final piece was about getting to work with great people – talented and dedicated, with great skill sets.
HCB News: Why did Erlanger decide to acquire Murphy’s?
It was about expanding access throughout the region. I believe they looked at the market and saw it was underserved and went about growing services throughout the region. It’s about patient access.
HCB News: Were there any staffing changes or changes to what Murphy’s offers due to the acquisition?
We’re just doing evaluations and looking at it as an opportunity to grow our services. The hospital is in great shape, we’ll just be doing a good bit of expansion when it comes to primary care as well as specialty care.
HCB News: What are the plans going forward for Murphy’s?
The first step – we know we have a large deficit when it comes to primary care physicians. So we’ll be recruiting new providers to our area. We’ve already begun the process of recruitment. We recently went through a strategic planning process, and in the next 60 days we’ll have a complete strategic plan in place for the Murphy’s region. It will really give us the roadmap we need to grow.
HCB News: What challenges does the hospital face?
The biggest challenge is the shortage of primary care physicians. The other is access to healthcare. One thing we already have rolled out, is Erlanger on Demand. It provides full-time access to a board certified physician either by telephone or video. It’s $49 per visit. It’s for use for any age group. Physicians can prescribe from all 50 states. It’s for minor medical issues only, it does not replace their relationship with their provider. Common conditions treated with Erlanger on Demand include things like cold and flu, rashes, allergies, UI, pinkeye . . . non-emergency conditions.
Anyone can sign up, they just need to provide medical history, and other important information. It will give them access from anywhere in the country
HCB News: What are your predictions on how healthcare should change and how it might change over the next five to 10 years?
I think the successful organizations really need to focus on building a culture around service. They have to focus on quality outcomes as well as great customer service to patients. We have to expand our primary care and the connection to the regions we serve. We need to work to be visible, to be interactive, to sit down and build services around those needs.
I think it’s worth mentioning – we are a small critical access hospital located in Murphy, North Carolina. These operations are not your typical critical access hospitals. When you start looking at the services we provide, this is a full-service hospital. We have four surgery suites. We intend to grow our services. We’re sitting down with the community to figure out what all their needs are and we’re building programs around those needs. Our future is bright. I’m very excited about the potential and direction we’re heading under the Erlanger leadership, and how we’re going to grow to serve these patients.
Erlanger Murphy Medical Center
Murphy, North Carolina
Opened in 1979, joined Erlanger Health System on April 1, 2018
Number of beds:
Number of employees:
Mark Kimball, FACHE, Erlanger Murphy Medical Center
Erlanger Murphy Medical Center is a critical access hospital in rural Western North Carolina. Wound Care Center of Excellence and Center of Distinction accreditation from Healogics for four consecutive years.
• Emergency Department
• Wound Care and Hyperbaric
• Cardiac Rehab
• Primary Care
• Erlanger OnDemand – telemedicine
service offered to all patients
• Valet Parking Services