Hospital CEO: Future bright for industry

Tonya Fennel: CNJ staff writer

Jim Hinton
Chief executive officer of Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Hinton has been with Presbyterian for 23 years. He serves on the Presbyterian board of directors and is chairman of the Presbyterian Health Plan board of directors. He lives in Albuquerque with his wife, Cindy. They have two children, Rebecca and Robert.

Q: Give a brief description of your company.
A: Presbyterian is an organization that was founded in Albuquerque in 1908. It has operated continuously as a not-for-profit organization. We don’t have any shareholders, and we are not paying dividends to anybody. It also means 100 percent of our activity goes to benefit people in the state of New Mexico. Today we are the second largest private employer in the state, and 672 of those employees are in Clovis. So, Plains Regional Medical Center is a big part of our organization. Besides having eight hospitals, we (Presbyterian) have a large health plan and we have a large employee medical group.

Q: Why is Plains Regional Medical Center a not-for-profit healthcare facility?
A:Well, that is an easy question. We fundamentally believe that the profit motivation of some healthcare companies is inconsistent with delivering the best healthcare needs to the community. We have a pretty strong view that there isn’t enough money in healthcare to get everything done, so if you introduce a shareholder, it takes money out of healthcare. It means fewer nurses and fewer programs.

Q:Why are you visiting Plains Regional Medical Center?
A:I visit all our regional facilities on a fairly routine basis. I attended a Plains Regional Medical Center board meeting and spent some time with employees and physicians.

Q:Can you tell us anything that was discussed at the board meeting?
A:No, but I can tell you that the community board is responsible for ensuring the mission of the organization is achieved. A lot of what they focus on is the organization, like — Are we moving in the right direction? What are the indicators of that progress? How do we achieve what this community needs?

Q:Did you discuss the recent citations issued to PRMC by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services?
A:Well there is no way you can ignore some of the difficult issues the hospital has experienced in the last year. So, certainly stabilizing the management team is important. Hoyt (Skabelund, PRMC administrator) is our best administrator in rural healthcare. He has made a tremendous contribution to improving quality of services. CMS scrutiny is something we welcome. We think it is good for us to get that feedback.

Q:Did you discuss the possible growth with the new mission at Cannon Air Force Base?
A:The news of the mission is exciting and certainly that is very consistent with the growth plans that PRMC has had for five years. A new cancer center, new healthplex, new cardiology program, new medical office building, new emergency room and are all being discussed. The list goes on and on. Our goal is to have the vast majority of healthcare needs provided for residents within Curry County at PRMC by doctors they know and in a clean facility.

Q:What are the biggest challenges in healthcare right now?
A:It is a challenge-rich environment. When people are surveyed locally, they say education, healthcare, and crime are most important. At a very broad level, the number of uninsured people in our state is a very big issue.
Second, there are just a lot of opportunities to do things better.

Q:What things could be done better at PRMC?
A:Such as treating people in ways that get better outcomes. Sometimes the science of what is known to produce good outcomes is not always followed. We are discussing the best ways to care for patients.

Q:What is the future of rural hospitals?
A:I think it is bright. Technology has allowed a lot of things that used to be done in big sophisticated hospitals to be done in smaller hospitals.

Q:How closely are you working with Hoyt Skabelund to address the recent citations?
A:Well, Hoyt does not report directly to me but I do see him a lot. What I’m trying to accomplish is to encourage the board to do what needs to be done and address these problems. I want to make sure the hospital has the resources it needs to address any problems, such as technology, automation, computer, staffing resources or expertise.

The problems we have had here are significant; we are not trying to sugar-coat them. They have been difficult issues.