UPHS-Marquette continues to evolve as US health care does

Brian Sinotte

While the trees are blossoming and my dogs now constantly muddy with the warming of our weather in Marquette, healthcare continues to be in a period of turbulent change.

Both existing and proposed new legislation has the industry in significant tumult. The continued declines in reimbursement for healthcare services, higher deductibles for patients, and escalating costs to provide care are creating pressures many hospitals are finding too great to endure. And if this isn’t challenging enough, the industry is now bracing for another round of healthcare cuts as proposed with the current bill in the Senate.

But context is critical. Since 2010, we have seen an unprecedented number of U.S. hospitals closing, filing bankruptcy, and undergoing rapid cost structure adjustments. No region or state is immune to these changes.

Point being: Comparing anything now to what was 10 years ago in healthcare has become largely irrelevant–our industry has changed in very profound ways.

For example, a globally renowned cancer institution, MD Anderson, eliminated 1,000 jobs in January. Brigham and Women’s, affiliated with Harvard, is eliminating 1,600 this month with further reductions expected later this year.

In February, Mayo Clinic stated they are putting in special programs to prioritize patients with private insurance. And CHI-Texas announced they are eliminating 620 jobs as part of a plan to eventually remove 1,500 over the next year. These are just a few examples.

Ezekiel Emanuel, scholar and architect of the Affordable Care Act, stated that roughly 20 percent of hospitals in the US could close. Further reform is likely to accelerate or exceed that prediction. This is new territory for hospitals and health systems–as a result, we are all seeking greater efficiencies.

All this to say that as an industry, we are dealing with some tough realities right now. At UPHS-Marquette, we are choosing to adapt. We are in the midst of rapidly evolving our organization to ensure our hospital’s long-term sustainability in the new healthcare environment. And the reason is simple: We don’t just care for our community. We care about you. We want to make sure we are able to provide quality care close to home for your children, grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren.

Another debilitating issue we must address is outmigration, which has accelerated tremendously over the last few years. What this means is people in our city and county are making the choice to leave the U.P. for care that we can deliver right here in Marquette.

And this is having a significant impact on our hospital and our community. If our community members continue to go elsewhere for care, we won’t need as many doctors, nurses, techs and every other great members of the team we employ to take care of people.

And these job losses hurt more than just our hospital; they are hurting our local economy, potentially dissuading new ventures from establishing a presence locally.

While we have had to reduce our staff by nearly 50 this year, I remain focused on the more than 2,000 people we still employ, mostly proud Yoopers, who are as committed as ever to provide outstanding care to people when they need it most. One of the things I have been most impressed with since coming to Marquette is the extraordinary amount of talent within all of our teams.

From our doctors to our nurses, support staff to volunteers, we have some of the brightest minds in the business. Our hope is that you will give us the opportunity to meet your needs and earn your trust as the place to go for healthcare.

Our organization exists for one reason: To take great care of our families, friends, and neighbors in the U.P. And while we are making necessary changes to adapt, we are striving to be the best we can possibly be every day.

Having worked with many hospitals across the U.S., there is not a perfect hospital. But we strive to be one. And we are getting much better at recognizing and celebrating the miracles that happen here every day.

This will always be your community hospital. We are your friends, neighbors, loved ones, all ready and willing to help you when you need it most. Thank you for your continued support–I’m certain I speak for the entire organization when I say that that we consider it an honor to serve you.

Editor’s note: Brian Sinotte is CEO of UP Health System-Marquette.