The new CEO of Sherman Oaks Hospital and Encino Hospital, Jim Sherman, will set out to chart a new strategic direction for both facilities amid major changes that include the departure of the Grossman Burn Center and impending national healthcare reform.
“One of the things I need to do now is work with the medical staff and the staff, and we need to figure out what does Encino Hospital of the future look like? What is Sherman Oaks Hospital of the future going to be? We really need to figure out where we are going,” said Sherman, who took over September 14.
Both hospitals have had a significant presence in the community for close to 50 years and are now part of a 13 hospital system run by Prime Healthcare Services.
For 40 years, Sherman Oaks Hospital has housed the Grossman Burn Center well known for treating high-profile burn victims, offering services that include acute care, reconstruction, rehabilitation and psychological help.
With the burn center’s expected relocation to West Hills Hospital early next year, come challenges and opportunities, said Sherman.
“The burn center has been such a vital part of this hospital for so many years and I’m very sorry to see it go. I’m disappointed just like everybody else, but it was a business decision for them and I respect it and we’re going to try to make it a very smooth transition,” he said.
“But at the same time, the burn center always overshadowed all the other great services that were at this hospital. We have a fantastic wound care program, a fantastic mental health program geared towards seniors, we have a cath lab - so this is an opportunity to really showcase those services for the community.”
As CEO of the two hospitals Sherman said he will work with doctors and the two hospitals’ 1,100 employees, as well as reach out to the community, in order to come up with a shared vision to build upon for the future.
“I think if I went out on the street and asked people: ‘What do you know about Sherman Oaks Hospital?’ They’d say, ‘Oh that’s the hospital with the Burn Center.’ And about Encino, they’d say: ‘That’s the hospital on Ventura Blvd.’, but they couldn’t specifically tell me about the services that we offer at both and that’s what my goal is going to be, to take some of the great services we have and expand upon those and then add some new services as well.”
Sherman will oversee significant capital investments at both facilities including the purchase of new equipment and technology. Both facilities had been undercapitalized by their previous owners, he said, and resources from Prime Healthcare, which acquired Sherman Oaks Hospital in June of 2006 and added Encino Hospital in June of 2008, have allowed for significant improvements.
A new Patient Care Information System was recently installed, and stock pharmaceuticals are now available to nursing units on local floors in an effort to improve efficiency, he said.
Sherman Oaks Hospital recently opened a Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and re-opened its inpatient mental health program for seniors.
“One of the things that I’m very proud of coming on board is that the average time that it takes from when you walk into the emergency room to the point when you’re seen by a physician is on average 15 minutes or less. And I know that at most hospitals, and especially in California, it’s two hours or more. So I really want to get that word out and that’s something we plan to capitalize on.”
Sherman also said he’s proud to join Prime Healthcare Services as they were recently ranked by Thomson Reuters as one of the top 10 U.S. health systems and were the only for-profit health system to receive this recognition on the West Coast.
In the past, Prime Healthcare Services has been criticized for its efforts to cut costs and boost profits.
Most recently, Dr. A. Richard Grossman, founder of the Grossman Burn Center, told the LA Times the move to West Hills Hospital was prompted by frustration over reduced resources at Sherman Oaks.
Ready for the future
In the current financial climate, with decreasing reimbursements and looming healthcare reform, Sherman understands the challenges are many.
“It’s a difficult time for hospitals. We don’t know what healthcare reform is going to bring, and we’re also worrying about where funding is going to come from for the earthquake retrofitting that needs to take place. There are also challenges with reimbursements as technology advances,” he said.
Sherman, who spent the last 11 years working with HCA, first as President and CEO of West Hills Hospital and most recently as President and CEO of Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, said he’s happy to be back in a small hospital environment.
“What I really love about small hospitals is that it’s a family, it’s a team, there’s camaraderie, and that’s very similar to what I experienced when I was at West Hills Hospital and it’s something I just love,” he said. “I’m happy to be back in the community where I was raised, that I know and I love.”
With a wide smile and visible enthusiasm Sherman has been greeting doctors and hospital staff during his first weeks on the job undaunted by what he described as the ‘wait and see’ attitude that some staff have adopted when it comes to new leadership.
“I think there’s caution because both facilities have seen a significant number of CEOs, they’ve seen them come and go, and so I think there’s a little speculation and thinking ‘yeah he’s a nice guy but will he be here in six months.’ And they’re very open to sharing that with me,” he said.
Muhammad Anwar M.D., Medical Director for Sherman Oaks and Encino Hospitals said so far he liked what he saw.
“It’s only been his first week but so far everybody has taken him well. He brings a lot of energy to the table, that I can see right away,” he said. “He understands the market forces and the importance of physicians’ contributions to the financial success of a hospital, which is really important. He’s also very personable, humble; his overall approach is very inclusive. I’m confident he will do very well, especially because of his background in finance.”
Jim holds a Masters degree in Healthcare Administration from California State University, Northridge.
Sherman, who replaces former CEO John Rossfeld, said he can’t control how long he’ll be in the position, “but I intend on being here for the long run,” he said.