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MGHS CEO Gary Muller plans to focus even more on people

March 30, 2009
By KIM HOYUM Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE -The last nine months have seen a financial turnaround for Marquette General Health System, and CEO Gary Muller says he plans for the positive numbers to continue from now on.

Muller sat down with The Mining Journal for an interview about the changes that have taken place over the course of 2008, and the ones that are still ahead.

After two years of financial losses, in 2006 and 2007, Muller said the most recent financial information shows that February was the ninth straight month MGHS has shown a positive operating income.

Article Photos

Marquette General health system’s CEO Gary Muller stands outside of the entrance to the Emergency Room in March 2008. (Journal file photo)

Muller credits much of that result to initiatives like a new leadership program, controlling costs across the hospital, and developing MGHS as a regional medical center.

MGHS has a "Strategic Journey" plan for the next years, to 2011, and Muller said all the changes the health system has made in the last year are steps toward fulfilling that plan.

One of those things is employee retention and satisfaction, Muller said. Although the hospital shed jobs in 2008, he said they are ready to hire again, with the addition of 60 new hires recently. He added that will continue across the hospital as they expand in some areas. As part of MGHS' goal of clinical excellence, they are recruiting more physicians and staff for specialties like stroke and cancer care, orthopedic care and women's services.

"The good news is, for people who want jobs, we have jobs, and we continue to hire," Muller said.

Recently, the health system had a survey of its employees taken to find out how best to engage employees in their work, he said.

"They told us what it takes for them to come to work and be successful here at MGH," he said. A result of the study was the setting up of "neighborhoods" within the hospital -for example, the laboratory is one. Employees then work in different neighborhoods based on how they work best, he said.

"We've got a lot of good people, but where in the hospital is the best place for them to be to take care of patients? That's what we're aiming for," Muller explained.

He said a hospital is a people-focused business, for both the employees and patients, and noted that's why each part of the strategic plan includes emphasis on collaboration and continuous improvement.

"In a hospital, one thing that's really important is that physicians, management and administrators all have the same vision and focus, and that's what will make us a better hospital for the patients. That's going to be a major focus in the coming year and into the future." Muller said.

Part of the hospital's financial strategy looking forward is to be conservative, he said. Physically, that means no new construction is planned for the immediate future.

"We're not ready to build or do anything big, but we're keeping up with new equipment, maintenance - 'painting and fixing,' as I call it," Muller said. "But having a positive operating income and managing our money well, we anticipate 2009 will be a good year financially for Marquette General."



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