The Art of Recovery

Article by · February 20, 2019

How Charlotte Dupré Brought Southern Regional Medical Center Back to Life

It is no secret that when Charlotte Dupré arrived at Southern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) back in 2015 the hospital was in need of a medical miracle. “I walked into a hospital that was more or less depleted with over 22 management positions open, patient and staff dissatisfaction, and a very public bankruptcy.” Before the hospital was purchased, its average loss per month was about $4 million.

THE PRESCRIPTION FOR HEALING
Since most of the key management positions were vacant, Charlotte’s first priority was to fill those positions.

“The last three years have been about focusing on bringing great leadership to the hospital. Because this is a very high paced hospital, I’ve been finding people who can adapt quickly, [we recently had an emergency room with 202 visits in one day].”

In addition to hiring great management, the hospital stopped paying third parties. For example, instead of outsourcing the pharmacy, housekeeping and security, the hospital brought all three departments in house. “Being able to fill in the gap like this allowed us to employ residents of this community, which gives a sense of inclusion. These are our employs now, they are committed to our community. We are a family now.”

“We have cut expenses and continue to look for ways to increase efficiencies. Southern Regional is a level three trauma hospital, and we can provide certain services a smaller hospital cannot,” she adds. 
Providing level three trauma service calls for a group of physicians that actually work in the hospital but were not employed by the hospital [hospitalists], this group of physicians is now employed by SRMC. “With the effort of creating a winning team, it only made sense to hire the hospitalist. SRMC now employs all of the emergency room physicians. “Again, with these hires, there is a real sense of inclusion and service.”

MOVING FORWARD ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Now that the hospital has been completely brought out of bankruptcy, it has wiggle room to implement innovative ideas. The owners, (Prime Healthcare, founded by Dr. Prem Reddy) of the hospital are very open to new ideas. When ideas are presented and can be proven to be good for the community and the bottom line, the idea is usually implemented.

CARING FOR OUR AGING POPULATION
The latest and greatest is the new Geri-Psych unit that houses 16 beds on the 5th floor of the hospital. SRMC invested 5 millions dollars into this project. The unit will treat mild depression and create a community for elderly patients. Designed specifically to get elderly patients thinking differently, in the Geri-Psych unit, patients will wear their own clothes. The environment will also foster meaningful activity and movement.

“We also implemented an acute care unit for the elderly (ACE), in 2017. This unit houses 20 beds and is now running with an average of 15 to 18 geriatric medical patients at any given time. The beds are lower to the floor and geared specifically for ease”.

IN THE BLACK
Now that the hospital is no longer living day to day, Dupre’ has created a culture that thrives from open communication. “I don’t believe in the ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it thought’ I say blow it up and start all over.”

“Everybody feels like there is an open door policy now. There was a time when the staff referred to the board room as the mahogany office because no one felt comfortable having meeting in there. Now we have meetings and lunches in there all of the time,” she says.

In just under three years the hospital is now profitable, however, it’s been in the black since three months after Charlotte arrived. “Open communication, physician leadership, and recruiting that is focused on this community, is what can be accredited to the turnaround.”

FORGING AHEAD
Continued growth is anticipated by focusing on safety and quality while providing excellent customer service. Conducting town meetings, rounding on the units, and creating videos to communicate with staff and patients are a few other innovative ways that Charlotte is keeping close to her team. “Anybody can call Dupre’ at anytime. Everybody is a VIP, the only way to solve issues is to know about them, I reach out to everyone. I find out the needs of the hospital.” Investing in employees with merit increases and market adjustments every year is another way the hospital will keep healthy. While investing millions of dollars in ensuring fair wages, the overall feeling is “when people are being paid their worth, they will come to work in a spirit of excellence.”

Southern Regional’s ever evolving goal is to be the friendliest hospital. Every one is on stage when they arrive to work. Providing excellent healthcare and excellent services to patients and visitors is the goal the hospital is striving for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.