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The Rev. Dr. Caesar Richburg is expecting "a big year" at the Regional Medical Center in 2019, saying a cultural shift is underway at the health care institution that will mean brighter days ahead.

"We are excited about our path forward," Richburg said in an interview with The T&D. "There is great excitement about what has been accomplished and what we strongly feel will be the accomplished goals this coming year."

Richburg was chairman of the board during a challenging 2018 for the hospital. William Wilson is the new chairman of the board, but Richburg remains a member.

Richburg notes that under hospital President and CEO Charles Williams and his leadership team, "the culture is changing" at the hospital.

Since Williams became CEO on Dec. 11, 2017, the hospital slashed a $7 million deficit to a $1 million deficit in 2018, he said.

"For me, that is a remarkable accomplishment," Richburg said.

He said Williams has increased the hospital’s positive cash flow and decreased labor costs as a percentage of net revenue.

"There is excellent traction going forward. I think it is important that the community knows that,” Richburg said.

There has been a reduction in staffing. In February 2018, the hospital laid off 3 percent of its employees to improve efficiency.

The hospital has also sought to reduce overtime, eliminate agency staff and fill only emergent vacant positions.

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Richburg says he is looking for greater things in 2019 as a number of new board members will be providing new and fresh insight.

RMC has a number of goals for 2019, Richburg said.

These include:

  • Decreasing supply costs per adjusted discharge by 5 percent.
  • Increasing operating cash flow margins of 6 percent or better.
  • Increasing the Leapfrog survey score by at least one letter for the spring of 2019.
  • Decreasing labor costs as a percentage of net revenue by at least 5 percent.
  • Decreasing emergency room department wait times by 10 percent. There have been discussions of building an urgent care center in Orangeburg. The center would be owned by the RMC.
  • Increasing patient satisfaction by 13 percent, as recorded by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, a patient satisfaction survey required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Improving the retention rate of employees.

"I think when you look at our nurses, RMC is plenty competitive," Richburg said. "Charles and his team are working on employing an incentive system to reward those persons that perform well. People have a tendency to remain with an organization when they are well remunerated."

Richburg stressed that quality at the Regional Medical Center needs to be from the top down.

"Regardless of what the board's objectives are, it has to be properly cascaded down to the very lowest level: 'ground zero,' as I like to call it," he said.

"The ones that will make it happen are the ones who see the patients every day."

Richburg said there is an understanding among hospital leadership that, "we have a whole lot more to do."

"It is not going to get accomplished overnight," he said. "The goals are aggressive. We don't want soft goals. We wanted goals that would require us to do some serious stretching but at the same time remaining focused on our core values. Doing that, we can achieve those goals."

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