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Sandoval hospital CEO retires, takes new job in Mich.

Jamie Silva-Steele.

Jamie Silva-Steele.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Jamie Silva-Steele is settling into her new position as interim president and CEO of UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, attending her first meeting with the UNM SRMC board of directors on Wednesday.

Silva-Steele replaced Kevin Rogols, who had been with SRMC since 2010 and stepped down in December. She also took over his position as secretary of the board.

Rogols will replace Jim Austin as CEO of Kalkaska Memorial Health Center in Michigan. Austin and Rogols worked together often between 1986 and 1991, when Rogols served as vice president at Munson Medical Center, also in Michigan.

Silva-Steele has worked in Albuquerque at the UNM Hospital for nearly 30 years. She started as a pediatric nurse and most recently served as administrator for Ambulatory Care Services at UNMH.

At the meeting, the board approved a job description for the CEO position.

The hospital will launch a national search to fill the position, John Arnold, director of News and Multimedia Services at the UNM Health Sciences Center, told the Observer in email.

“The hospital anticipates posting the job in about two months,” he said, adding the process will take about three months to complete.

In other business Wednesday, the board received an update on the hospital’s recovery plan, which calls for increased patient visits and a self-sustaining cash flow, and heard about recent efforts to recruit and retain medical staff.

Silva-Steele said patient visits to the hospital dipped slightly over the holidays, with between 191 and 222 each week. Visits reached 282 for the week of Jan. 11. She said same-day surgeries exceeded target and “we’re pleased with our outpatient activity.”

The weekly census at the hospital approached 300 for the first time in September and again in November. The hospital budgeted for a higher number of visits. The recovery plan discussed Wednesday contains a target of 380 patient visits per week.

Hospital finances

Ella Watt, interim chief financial officer for UNM SRMC, told the board the hospital’s net loss in December was $431,000. She said expenses went up with holiday pay. The hospital received some large checks in January and its financial statements should improve.

Jerry Geist, a former CEO of energy and utility companies, recently joined the board and attended his first meeting Wednesday. When he heard Watt say the hospital’s year-to-date loss was $5.1 million, he asked her for a projection of the hospital’s year-end financials.

“For FY15, I’m extremely optimistic,” Watt said. She has seen some increased revenues and decreased expenses, “but I’m not sure if it will be break-even at that time.” The hospital is only its second year and will need time to become profitable, she said.

Steve McKernan, UNM Health Sciences System CEO and board chair, told Geist the original projection from back in 2010 was being recalibrated. In a month to six weeks, McKernan said he expects the board to review and vote on a budget revision.

“Where we’re a bit short is in our revenue projections,” he said.

The hospital also underestimated the demand for uncompensated care, McKernan said.

“These are people that are desperately in need of care and were not getting access to care before SRMC was here,” he said.

The Medicaid expansion in New Mexico is expected to decrease the number of charity cases.

Medical staff

Dr. Michael Richards told the board the hospital had experienced some problems with attracting a full complement of medical staff. He said the hospital found its patients had a higher need for specialty providers than is traditionally the case with community hospitals.

After Lovelace Health System and ABQ Health Partners split in the fall of 2012, Richards said, the providers at ABQ Health Partners helped round out the hospital’s medical staff. When Lovelace and ABQ Health Partners reconciled in December, UNM SRMC had to boost its recruitment of individual doctors.

“We have a number of providers that came on in late summer to mid-fall,” Dr. Tony Ogburn, chief medical officer at the hospital, told the board. “I think over the next few months we’ll see a significant increase, both in clinic visits and admissions.”