‘It was a great decision’: Retired KDMC CEO looks back and into the future – Reuters
Alvin Hoover, chief executive of King’s Daughters Medical Center for 15 years, will officially step down and retire on September 30.
After spending more than 30 years in hospital administration, Hoover came to Brookhaven from Abbeville Area Medical Center, where he was also CEO.
“It was a big decision for me to come to Brookhaven and be part of King’s Daughters, and I couldn’t have asked for more over the past 15 years to be part of such a great organization,” Hoover said.
“I pretty much handed over everything (to new CEO Scott Christensen),” he said. “My plan now is just to take some time off – take myself some sabbatical – and try not to worry about the world… try not to worry about work and health care. “
Hoover plans to take 120 days off and reevaluate and see what he wants to do next. He and his wife plan to travel a bit, but he mostly wants to “relax”. This can be difficult for a man who has only had one week of vacation for the last decade and a half, although he has had a few long weekends.
Challenges in the rearview mirror
Two of the biggest challenges the healthcare leader has faced in his career came during his time at KDMC. The most recent was the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased the cost of supplies and equipment, stretched the workforce and “turned our world upside down again”, he said.
“It was a really tough time for health care.”
But one of the biggest challenges he faced in his career came in 2013, when the Affordable Healthcare Act came into force.
“They’ve really shaken up our reimbursement world,” Hoover said. “The feds said, ‘We’re taking out this much money’ (from several different programs), and they only took about 20-25% of our money.
“They said if you expand Medicaid you’ll get 10-15% of that money back. But in Mississippi, we didn’t expand Medicaid, so we didn’t get any of that money back. So we went into survival mode for the next four to five years.
KDMC and many Mississippi hospitals were finally at a place where they were doing well financially, Hoover said, with the cost of health care being one of the cheapest in the country.
“The most frustrating thing is people saying we can’t afford to do this, but hospitals can’t afford not to do this,” he said. “Our state has turned down billions of dollars that could have helped pay for health care, new equipment, to help pay for the challenges we face in the job market.”
But it wasn’t all a challenge. Hoover also had many successes. Under his leadership, KDMC achieved many milestones, including: ISO 9001 certification, the highest internationally recognized rating for quality programs; has consistently received five stars for patient satisfaction from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; received full recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its diabetes prevention program; and has been internationally recognized as a Baby-Friendly Designated Birthing Facility.
Recently, KDMC was selected to be part of the Mississippi CAN (Coordinated Access Network) and TrueCare to serve Mississippi Medicaid members.
“It will take effect next year,” Hoover said. “There are a lot of details that have yet to be released, so we can’t comment too much at this time, but this is an exciting development for vendors.”
One of Hoover’s proudest accomplishments at KDMC is that the organization has been named Best Workplace in Modern Healthcare for nine of the past 11 years.
“It’s a feat everywhere, but especially in Mississippi,” he said. “There are 150 select locations across the United States. It is a measure of employee engagement – types of compensation, benefits, programs you have to help take care of your employees – as well as our mission to “Always provide a healthy and quality well-being in a Christian environment”.
“We were able to engage our workforce, and it’s a place to come and enjoy your work, help each other, care about each other, and they can pitch in and talk about things.”
Recognition speaks well for everyone in the organization, the CEO said.
“It’s a reflection not just of me, but of the people who work here and their care, who have embraced our mission and our philosophy of listening to and caring for our employees in the workplace,” said he declared. “It’s one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of.”
Obstacles remain for healthcare, KDMC and new CEO Christensen to address and overcome. Hoover sees the biggest challenge as the persistence of post-pandemic issues.
“Rising costs, labor shortages of (all types) of healthcare workers and labor in general, clinical or non-clinical, administrative, environmental, dietary – there are just has a shortage of people to fill the jobs,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge.”
Demand and supply work hand-in-hand, and when there is a lack of labor supply, demand increases, Hoover said.
“So the costs are going up and we won’t have the resources to meet the costs,” he said. “We can adjust our prices in hospitals, but nearly 70% of our reimbursements come from Medicaid/Medicare or federal programs, the rest from private insurance. Medicaid/Medicare doesn’t give us extra money to deal with rising costs, and neither do insurance companies,” Hoover said. “It’s a difficult situation — lack of workers, rising costs for services and supplies. It’s quite a challenge.
A retirement reception for Hoover will be held at Butterfield Mansion on Wednesday, September 14, from 4 to 7 p.m.
“It will be a fun day for me, culminating my work there,” Hoover said.