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David Bowie wrote a song called Changes. It comes to mind with all that has been going on lately at Gila Regional.

It all started in 2013 when state funding for the indigent fund was cut from $15 million to $4 Million, then Brian Cunningham became the CEO replacing Brian Bentley. A lot of changes happened then. A $10 Million turnaround in finances in Cunningham's first year and a change in the internal culture with a focus on Lean 6-Sigma and project management were implemented.

In 2015 the Meditech 6.1 upgrade went into full swing and became the largest project GRMC had ever undertaken, which unfortunately ran into costs overruns due to trying to complete a project that had been slotted to take 5 years in 2 years.

In 2016 GRMC was rated a 4-Star Quality Care Hospital by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, when previously we had a penalty to contend with since these ratings impact how the hospital is reimbursed. A lot of work to improve the patient experience and quality of care really paid off.

2017 was another year of big changes starting with the resignation of the CEO Brian Cunningham and a new Interim CEO, Alfredo Ontiveros, was hired by the Board of Trustees to come in and assess the hospitals revenue cycle, staffing and to get Meditech 6.1 fully operational. This resulted in a reduction in force from the administrative side and a restructuring of the patient care areas in an effort to eliminate costly contracted travelling nurses. The bottom line for Gila Regional had dipped into the red, but with these changes, we were able to achieve 2 break even months.

In state politics, New Mexico announced a $300 million shortfall in the current budget and had to scramble to find ways to fill in the gap. Rural communities, such as Grant County, felt the squeeze as the government dipped into funds and cut others. Even now we are unsure how the state politics will play out.

This brings us to the present day for the Hospital. GRMC announced that UNM is coming in as our new Cancer Care Provider after a Request For Proposal (RFP) resulted in two possible contenders for the contract. What needs to be understood is that this change was not due to performance or anything negative. The New Mexico Cancer Center (NMCC) from Albuquerque served the hospital for 20 years, with excellent care. This really boils down to GRMC being a county owned hospital and having to maintain regulatory requirements. The RFP was required, and after careful consideration, UNM was chosen as the new provider. We thank the NMCC for the many years of care that they gave you our patients, and we are confident that UNM will do the same.

We also announced that the GRMC Board of Trustees selected a new CEO. Mrs. Taffy Arias will arrive on May 29, 2017 and take on the role of Cheif Executive Officer for Gila Regional. Mrs. Arias will bring her own changes to GRMC I am sure, as we each do when we apply our experiences and knowledge to our jobs.

What it comes down to is, life is all about change. We see it every day, if we stop and pay attention. New stores open, while other close; new 4-way stops get put in downtown; and new people come into our lives. Change happens, sometimes it is scary, but it is inevitable. We can embrace the change with hope or dread, that is our personal choice in life, but change will happen either way. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, that is how David Bowie put it, and it is just part of being alive.

Thank you,

Joe Kellerman
Gila Regional Director of Marketing


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