Source: The News-Enterprise
In two days, Hardin Memorial Health will officially become part of Baptist Health.
The sale will be finalized Tuesday.
The two entities entered into the asset purchase agreement in May 2018. The announcement followed two years of research, discussion and comprehensive due diligence on the part of the Baptist Health Hardin Board of Trustees, comprised of the nine-member Hardin Fiscal Court, and Baptist Health Hardin management.
“Certainly, we believe it was the right thing to do, and certainly, we believe the timing that we did it in was virtually perfect,” Judge-Executive and Chairman of the Baptist Health Hardin Board of Trustees Harry Berry said.
“We knew we were doing well and financial times were strong when we went into this process and negotiated a deal. Now, in hindsight, it couldn’t have been better and we couldn’t have made as good of a deal for the county and for the people,” he added.
Berry said he knows most people in Hardin County feel protective of the hospital. However, in the 66 years since its inception, Hardin Memorial has grown to cover a 10 county service area with more than 400,000 people in it.
“If you think about it, that is 1/10 of Kentucky that is served by the hospital that sits here and all of its outreach services,” Berry said.
SERVICES, PATIENT CARE. Baptist Health Hardin President and CEO Dennis Johnson said when he joined the team in 2011, it had been roughly eight years since the hospital had made a strategic plan. Getting that done was one of the first things he did after taking on his leadership role.
The top three priorities of the plan were: recruiting and retaining top shelf physicians; improving facilities; and improving services.
When he arrived, they had 207 members on medical staff. Today, they have more than 550 members. In 2011, they employed about nine physicians. Now, they employ about 275 physicians and nurse practitioners. They’ve also grown into multiple off campus locations scattered through the 10 counties.
Baptist Health Hardin includes more than 50 outpatient facilities across the service area including a Cancer Care Center and Outpatient Surgical Center.
In 2012, Baptist Health Hardin implemented its hospitalist program. Hospitalists are internal medicine and family practice physicians and physician assistants who specialize in the general medical care. When a patient is admitted, the hospitalist takes responsibility for the patient’s care for the duration of the stay.
The program experienced record growth in 2019 with the addition of five new physicians, bringing the total number of hospitalists employed by Hardin Memorial to 21.
In 2019, Baptist Health Hardin’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program earned the SANE Ready designation from the Kentucky Office of the Inspector General. During its recent expansion, the emergency department included two rooms specially designed and equipped for sexual assault victims’ privacy, comfort and safety.
Baptist Health Hardin also recently was awarded the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus achievement award, and was first in the state to receive the advanced accreditation for their total hip and knee program.
“Accreditations have been very important because national standards are developed at the highest level. If you achieve those accreditations, you are at the highest level in the country at providing that particular service,” Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Sharon Wright said.
Providing some support to patient care since 2015 has been the Baptist Health Foundation Hardin.
“The Baptist Health Hardin Foundation’s vision is to dramatically improve health in our local communities, and we are grateful to be able to help Baptist Health Hardin make patient care even better. We are so fortunate to have a growing health care system the quality of Baptist Health Hardin in Central Kentucky, and the Baptist Health Foundation Hardin remains ready to support it long into the future,” Joe Prather, Foundation board chairman, said.
Over the years, the Foundation has invested in programs such as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; cancer care; the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program; and Baptist Health Hardin Medical Group Radcliff Family Medicine.
CULTURE. Another part of what Baptist Health Hardin provides to the community is it’s culture, something leadership says will not change with Baptist Health Hardin’s transition to Baptist Health.
“There is an old saying in business, and it’s used in the health care industry as well, culture eats strategy for lunch,” Johnson said. “Culture drives everything.”
Johnson said culture is measured by patient satisfaction, employee satisfaction and physician satisfaction.
“We do phenomenally in all three of those areas,” he said.
In terms of culture, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Godfrey said their mission statement says it best.
The mission statement of Hardin Memorial is “to exceed the physical, emotiona and spiritual needs of our patients, their families, our physicians and our staff through the delivery of high-quality, comprehensive care to the people and communities we serve.”
When Baptist Health takes over, Godfrey said patients are going to see the same people, the same culture, the same care and desire to help people that already exists throughout the organization.
“While the sign on the building, the sign on the front door might be different, how we value patients, how we want to treat patients, will remain the same,” he said.
Wright said they are going to continue to explore how to grow their physical services and their physical buildings, but the care and love that comes from the organization is not going to change.
“The people here are the people that they are and they love this community. They are going to continue to provide that great care,” she said.
LEADERSHIP. Johnson touted Hardin Memorial’s executive team is the “best executive team of any hospital in the commonwealth of Kentucky and probably one of the very best in the entire country.”
“This team rarely looks back, we’re always focused on the future,” he said.
“The reason for our outstanding growth over the years is the leadership team. It’s not anything I’ve done, it’s what they have done.”
Johnson also recognized the Board of Trustees. He complimented Berry, stating the judge-executive makes decisions in the best interest of the hospital and the county even if it means it is going to hurt him politically.
I’ve never met an elected official like that before,”Johnson said, noting the entire board has been phenomenal and entirely invested.
Berry said Johnson frequently refers to himself as “just the conductor of the orchestra.”
“I have worked with Dennis for ten years. I must emphatically state he is not ‘just’ the leader of the band; he is its heart and soul,” Berry said. “Dennis expertly combines his keen analytical abilities with his exceptional interpersonal skills to create a dynamic environment of inclusive collaboration to produce phenomenal results.”
Berry said Johnson’s keen insight to the future of health care, and his ability to communicate and translate his vision into actions, has greatly enhanced the growth and quality of care of Baptist Health Hardin.
“But above all this, it is Dennis’ team building expertise that is undoubtedly his strongest attribute,” Berry said.
Adding to that, Berry said Dennis’ strong Christian faith always shows through in how he treats others in each and every encounter. He said Johnson is a leader that causes others to want to come to work and give their very best every minute of each and every day.
“He is one of the most respected leaders I have ever worked with,” Berry said.
Mike Dones, a painter at Baptist Health Hardin, said when you meet Johnson, you immediately feel comfortable.
“Even though he’s the CEO, he is so approachable, friendly and down to earth. Our system has grown so fast since he arrived, but the way we work together and the atmosphere around our hospital has never been better. We are a family at Baptist Health Hardin and Dennis makes that possible,” he said.
THE FUTURE. Berry compared Hardin Memorial and Baptist Health coming together to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“A peanut butter sandwich is pretty good. I guess jelly on toast is pretty good. But if you put peanut butter and jelly together, it’s even better,” he said.
Under the terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement, which was approved in May 2018, Baptist Health will acquire all assets of Baptist Health Hardin and, in return, will commit $235 million over 10 years to Baptist Health Hardin in operating and capital investments
Specific terms call for Baptist Health to invest a minimum of $150 million in the first five years to build new facilities, recruit more physicians, upgrade information technology and equipment, and strengthen Baptist Health Hardin’s position and reputation as a regional health care center. After the first five-year period, Baptist Health will commit an additional $85 million in capital investments to Baptist Health Hardin.
In all, the agreement spells out $361.4 million in payments and investments.
There also will be a local board featuring diverse backgrounds to serve Baptist Health’s operation of what now is Baptist Health Hardin. The eight positions on the advisory panel designated for local residents were approved in August 2018 at Hardin Fiscal Court.
“That helps take some of the politics out of dealing with hospital business. I do think that is one of the positives that the community will have out of this,” Berry said. “Depending on who is in office you see more or less politics involved with hospital business. Taking fiscal court out of that role will eliminate most, if not all, of the politics/political aspect of operating a hospital.”
The eight board members, recommended by Berry, include former Baptist Health Hardin Medical Staff Chiefs Kent Collard and William Nash; Marilyn Blair Ford of United Bank & Capital Trust; entrepreneur Mike Bowers; and former General Manager of Hardin County Water District No. 1 Jim Bruce. Hardin County Magistrates Garry King and Fred Clem, along with Berry also serve on the board.
Over time, Berry said some of the eight board members will come from neighboring counties in the service area, but right now, the selected all are from Hardin County.
The Baptist Health Hardin board is to have a total of 11 members along with the chief of medical staff, who typically serves in that capacity for two years. Two executives from Baptist Health also will be members.
The board will be an all-volunteer advisory panel. Members will not be paid for their service and will not receive ancillary benefits, such as health insurance, for their time and contributions.
In terms of culture at the hospital, leadership said patients will see no change moving forward with Baptist. Berry said the only change residents will see is in the name and lettering.
“The public is not going to know a difference. They are not going to feel like the culture has changed,” he said. “It will seem like business as normal to them.”
Johnson said the sale does mark an end of an era, but it’s not a bad thing.
“Yes, it’s the end of an era, but it’s the beginning of a phenomenal new era,” he said. “This is the beginning of a phenomenal new era and everything that you’ve seen, all the successes that you’ve seen over the last several years, you are going to continue to see them well into the future in the investment, not only here at the main campus … but throughout the 10 county service area.”