In recent years, University Medical Center (UMC) has experienced a rapid financial transformation, shedding its negative reputation for heavy reliance on Nevada taxpayers through the implementation of sound strategies to ensure the hospital’s future viability while promoting improved quality of care. UMC now stands as an example of financial stability while continuing to provide community members with the state’s highest level of care and a diverse range of exclusive, life-saving services.
UMC has been part of the fabric of Southern Nevada since 1931, growing from its humble beginnings as a 20-bed hospital staffed by only one doctor and one nurse taking care of the workers from the Boulder Dam. While UMC has earned its reputation for providing the highest level of care in Nevada, the hospital historically depended solely on taxpayer dollars to support its mission to care for the community, with this figure growing close to $90 million per year during its peak.
In 2014, UMC realized an operating loss just shy of $100 million, but in just two short years, the hospital’s balance sheet now tells an entirely different story. As a result of the guidance from UMC’s dedicated Governing Board and the collaborative efforts of UMC’s entire team, including new leadership in many key areas, the hospital finished 2016 with an operating income of more than $35 million, representing a turnaround of nearly $133 million.
While just a few years ago, UMC faced the reality of eliminating services and laying off employees, the hospital is now well-positioned for future growth. UMC’s success is truly a team effort, with valuable contributions coming from new leaders who joined the hospital during the past two years amid trying financial conditions, in addition to the many longtime employees who continue to deliver or support the high-quality care community members have come to expect from UMC. The hospital has also experienced a renewed level of support from community physicians, including many surgeons who refer their patients to UMC, trusting the hospital to deliver quality care to their patients.
Guided by a Governing Board comprised of industry experts and a handpicked team of senior hospital leaders, UMC streamlined its services, reorganized its workforce, renegotiated costly contracts, invested in technology and capital and utilized the finely honed business acumen of its team members to ensure taxpayer dollars were spent wisely on quality patient care.
A variety of strategic endeavors contributed to UMC’s financial success, including a renewed focus on increasing the number of elective surgical procedures performed at the hospital. UMC achieved significant growth in elective procedures by bolstering its physician engagement efforts and meeting the unique needs of clinicians and their patients. This included the development of the UMC Robotic Surgery Program, which provides physicians and patients with access to cutting-edge surgical technology designed to promote improved medical outcomes, faster recovery and reduced hospital stays.
As a result of its new strategic direction, UMC saw an operating margin of 5.9 percent in 2016.
With a positive operating margin, UMC has been able to focus its attention on reinvesting money back into the capital infrastructure of the campus. UMC invested close to $21 million in 2016 on building renovations, IT infrastructure, surgical equipment and new patient beds. In 2017, UMC will spend another $31 million on a modernized nurse call system, ambulatory clinic renovations, the most advanced MRI technology, an Emergency Department expansion and the substantial growth of three new Ambulatory Care Clinics.
In addition, the hospital recently formed a strategic partnership with the UNLV School of Medicine to deliver the region’s top academic medicine in Las Vegas.
UMC has also made significant improvements to its culture and employee morale while developing a new framework for promoting positive and meaningful interactions with patients, visitors and fellow colleagues. As a result of the direction provided by this framework, known as ICARE4U, UMC now offers a more collaborative, unified team driven by a shared goal of providing community members with, not only high-quality care, but higher levels of service and compassion.
UMC is now thriving with unprecedented quality and performance improvement, historic financial success, greater physician alignment and loyalty, state-of-the-art advances in technology and enhanced employee engagement, all with a focus on improved patient experience and community outreach.
While UMC once faced financial instability, the hospital’s \ turnaround and commitment to innovation hold the promise of continued growth and an extraordinarily bright future for Southern Nevada’s community hospital.
Mason VanHouweling is the chief executive officer of UMC.