Kansas University Hospital’s chief executive officer told Rotarians Monday that he still has a copy of an old consultant’s report that recommended one of two options for KU Hospital.
Close the hospital, or sell the hospital.
That was in 1996, when Bob Page joined the hospital.
He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2000, and became CEO in 2007, replacing Irene Cumming.
Since that report, Page helped lead a transition from one of the worst hospitals in the country to one of the highest-rated. Page outlined the situation soon after he arrived. The hospital had one of the worst patient satisfaction rates in the country — it was ranked in the lowest possible percentile.
It lost one-third of its employees every year, and those who left rated it as a poor place to work. It was losing revenue during a time when the industry was growing, and was on pace to lose $20 million a year by 2000.
The hospital undertook several reforms, Page said, and segregated itself from KU Medical Center and state funding and became its own public authority.
Page recalled talking to KU and state officials at the time.
“They said, in all honesty, that they had no idea whether it would work,” he said.
Today, the hospital is enjoying record patient volumes and revenue growth.
To help the hospital get there, Page said he and other hospital leaders focused on transparency, goal-setting and holding people accountable for results — both positively and negatively.
“If you create organizational tension, people go, ‘You know what, we really need to change,’” he said.
He said the hospital, early on, decided to stop offering $10,000 bonuses to new nursing hires, and instead reinvested that in one-time “retention bonuses” for existing employees, which helped raise morale and stop the massive employee turnover.
Page was asked about the relationship between KU Hospital and KU Medical Center, the research and academic side of the operation. Though he said it was once a bitter “civil war” between the two entities, the relationship today is as good as it’s been in his 14 years at KU Hospital.