By Doug Carder
OTTAWA — Matt Heyn, a hospital director in Larned has been selected to be the new chief executive officer of Ransom Memorial Hospital.
Heyn, 34, will begin his new duties July 1.
Ransom’s Board of Trustees announced May 22, it had selected Heyn for the position. Heyn was one of six finalists for the job, which was vacated when Larry Felix, Ransom CEO for 14 years, retired at the end of February — wrapping up a 41-year career in the health care field.
“Larry has done a wonderful job of putting down the foundation, and my plan is to work to build upon that legacy,” Heyn said.
After reviewing the hospital’s strategic and facility plans for the future and talking with board members, medical staff and community members, Heyn said Ransom Memorial Hospital and Ottawa seemed like an ideal fit for him and his family.
He plans to move to Ottawa with his wife, Melinda, and their two children, Madison and Leighton.
“We really felt like Ottawa was a place where we could lay some roots,” Heyn said. “We thought the community was absolutely a perfect fit for us going forward.”
Heyn, CEO of Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, Larned, brings to Ransom leadership and management skills honed in hospitals in Kansas, Colorado and Texas.
Phil Gibson, chairman of Ransom’s Board of Trustees, said. “We were looking for someone with strong patient care skills, and he has that,” Gibson said of Heyn.
Under Heyn’s leadership, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital received zero negative findings on the most recent accreditation, life safety, and clinical laboratory surveys, a Ransom news release said.
The hospital also was in the top percentile in Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys of patients’ perception of hospital care, the release said.
He takes a patient-centered approach to guiding hospitals, he said. “We always take care of patients first,” Heyn said.
Putting patients’ needs first has been the mantra at Ransom Memorial Hospital, Gibson said.
“RMH has a history of great patient care, and we want to continue that,” he said. Ransom’s board of trustees also was looking for a leader with chief executive officer and chief financial officer experience, and Heyn has experience in both of those executive positions, Gibson said.
Before becoming CEO of Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, Heyn served as vice president and chief financial officer of Central Kansas Medical Center, Great Bend, chief financial Officer of Rangely District Hospital, Rangely, Colo., and as a senior financial analyst for the Spine Hospital of South Texas, San Antonio.
“We also were looking for someone with a strong marketing background, which he has,” Gibson said of Heyn.
Heyn successfully aligned the hospital board, community, medical and hospital staff to be able to issue $20 million of hospital revenue bonds to build a new community replacement hospital, the release said.
Heyn, who has a masters of healthcare administration from Trinity University, San Antonio, also has experience recruiting physicians to absorb the growth in his hospital’s primary and secondary service area, the Ransom release said.
During his tenure with Ransom, Felix recently guided the hospital through a $9-million addition and renovation project, with no debt service at the end of the day. The hospital also has built up some cash reserves, Felix said.
Despite those successes, Felix told U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, during the lawmaker’s January visit to the hospital that he had delivered a hospital budget with a projected operating loss for the first time in 14 years.
“Our costs are continuing to go up to the point that the 2014 budget is the first time I’ve submitted a budget to my board of trustees with a huge operating loss, over a $1 million operating loss,” Felix said. “In the last decade, we’ve improved facilities and equipment without acquiring debt, so I feel like we are in as good a position as we can be to weather this, but I’m concerned not only about this place, but for all hospitals.”
The projected operating loss did not give Heyn pause when he was considering accepting the position, he said Friday morning.
Heyn’s plans to correct the projection in 2014 do not include trimming the hospital’s staff, he said.
“I don’t want people to think that ‘this new guy is going to come in and slash jobs,’” Heyn said. “That’s not the intent at all.”
Rather, Heyn said, he would look at ways for the hospital to better leverage its financial position by taking advantage of grant monies and federal subsidies available to hospitals.
While the health care field was accustomed to experiencing regulatory change in cycles, change is constant today and hospitals have to evolve with new health care trends and regulations, Heyn said.
“They way hospitals did business 15 or 10 years ago is not the way they have to do business today,” he said of the need to adapt to change.
One area where hospitals have had to adapt is converting to electronic health care records, Gibson said.
Pawnee Valley Community Hospital developed a fully integrated electronic health record under Heyn’s watch, the release said.
Ransom also is undergoing the conversion, hospital officials have said. The Medicare and Medicaid electronic health care records incentive programs provide financial incentives for the “meaningful use” of certified electronic health records technology.
To receive an incentive payment, providers have to show they are “meaningfully using” their certified records technology by meeting certain measurement thresholds, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s government web site. “In today’s market, electronic health care records are really important — whether you’re a private family doctor or a hospital,” Gibson said.
“The electronic health care records and the requirements that go along with them present a lot of challenges.”
Heyn’s experience in converting a hospital to electronic health care records will prove valuable, Gibson said. The hospital board also was impressed with Heyn’s track record of community involvement.
“He has been a very active community person, and that was important to us,” Gibson said. “He’s a real energetic guy and showed a lot of desire to be here and is willing to embrace the challenges of the health care industry. After interviewing the six finalists, we felt like he was the best fit for Ransom Memorial Hospital and the community.”
Heyn is looking forward to guiding the hospital and getting settled in the community, he said. “July first is not that far away,” Heyn said. “We’re very excited about coming to Ottawa.”