Children's Hospital Colorado Stands Strong During Tough Times
Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado
Every day, news headlines announce yet another troubling component of the nation’s faltering economy. And, just like families, and large and small businesses across the country, we feel the impacts of the struggling economy right here at Children's Hospital Colorado. It’s important that all of the communities we serve know that we’re well prepared to meet those challenges.
Impact of layoffs for young families
With the downturn in the nation’s economy, here’s what we know we’re going to deal with: A sure sign of economic hard times is businesses beginning the difficult process of laying off employees. When that occurs, it’s often young families with children who are affected most dramatically. These families stand to lose their employer-provided healthcare benefits and end up instead relying on Medicaid, a state’s Child Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), or their own resources, if available, to provide for their healthcare needs.
Understandably, families devastated by sudden losses of income due to layoffs often postpone the kind of care that could prevent an illness simply because those families cannot afford a visit to the doctor or to pay for a prescription they might be handed during that visit. Or, they may postpone scheduling well-child check-ups or getting the vaccinations their children may need. Hospitals such as ours then experience dramatic increases in patients with now more urgent needs coming to our emergency departments seeking care.
This new healthcare dynamic, combined with a drop in the reimbursement we receive to cover the costs of quality care we deliver, can make for challenging times. As a non-profit organization, we are not immune to the performance of the economy. Like many of you, our investment portfolio has suffered, so we are not receiving the positive income generated by those investments to help cover the increased expenses a lagging economy generates.
Now, the positive news
With all that said, however, Children’s is in a solid position to navigate through the current downswing and continue to support fully our mission of caring for every child and family who comes through our doors. To underscore that fact, because we have been proficient stewards of our scarce resources, we have prepared ourselves to weather the current economic storm.
In the broadest sense, the healthcare industry is strong. This is especially true at Children’s where our organization continues to grow. For example, in the last three months we hired more than 300 of the finest pediatric staff and more than 800 since January. (This means Children's Hospital Colorado will set a new record for employment in 2008!) Our medical staff also continues to grow with more than 100 new physicians practicing full-time at Children’s
Like all of you, we look forward to a strong, vibrant economy. But regardless of the economic challenges before us, we at Children’s will never take our eye off the ball: providing the highest quality health care to children at the only hospital in the region 100% dedicated to kids.
With warm regards,