The pros and cons of running a new hospital

Running a new hospital has its advantages but also carries the drawback of trying to develop a culture while competing with more established, experienced providers, two hospital chief executives told Becker's Hospital Review.

The biggest challenge in running a new hospital is getting the entire staff acclimated to the unfamiliar environment, Tom Hanenburg, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente's San Leandro Medical Center in California, told Becker's. Going from a 50-year-old facility, with design features to match, to an advanced, cutting edge hospital can be a major culture shock, he said, "[s]o you need to provide a lot of staff training and education before you make the move so everyone operates in the new environment safely and effectively."

As outpatient services take on a bigger role within healthcare, Hanenburg added, San Leandro treated the transition as an opportunity, designing a larger outpatient service area and a number of beds that the organization can expand on a case-by-case basis depending on needs.

A new facility also allows leaders to design the building in a way that meets patient and caregiver needs, said Kent Loosle, CEO of Mountain Point Medical Center in Lehi, Utah. Indeed, research shows hospital design can improve both patient and population health, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Providing high-quality service, Loosle said, helps distinguish Mountain Point from competitors, as does its commitment to exceeding patient expectations for service. Having a workforce that was there from the beginning ensured everyone was on the same page with regard to the hospital's culture, he added.

Newly reopened hospitals, such as Los Angeles' Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, which reopened this year after closing in 2007, face similar challenges and advantages, FierceHealthcare previously reported. While they must be prepared for local competitors, these providers are able to tailor their rebirths around changing patient population needs.

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