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Hospital Spotlight – Q&A with Tom Jensen, CEO of Grays Harbor Community Hospital

Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | September 11, 2015
Tom Jensen
From the September 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HealthCare Business News spoke with Tom Jensen to find out what makes his hospital, Grays Harbor Community, unique. Jensen spoke of the challenges as well as the opportunities.

HCBN: How did you get involved in the health care field?
My mother is a nurse and my father is military. So I grew up in a service-focused family and that set the stage for my interest.

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HCBN: What do you believe helps your hospital to stand out?
The hospital is a community hospital – we’re community focused and community driven. We serve the community, but the community is very supportive of us as well.

HCBN: The hospital has an exciting history – decades ago being on the brink of closing, but the community stepped in and volunteers stepped up. According to your Web site, the hospital formed a Limited Liability Corporation (Grays Harbor Community Hospital Physician Services, LLC) in 2007 as a way in which physicians could be employed. Can you explain a little about how creating an LLC helped make it easier to hire physicians?
Physician recruiting was becoming difficult as, nationally, doctors were increasingly more interested in being employed, rather than going into private practice. Our community was largely a logging and shipping community. As the economy faltered, the providers left too, so big changes had to occur to turn things around. In some states you can’t employ physicians. In Washington you can create an LLC to have a partnership between the hospital and doctors.

The hospital actually had been built by the community in the late 1950s. More recently, last year in fact, we became a public district hospital, municipality of the community. The board of directors, acknowledging the financial predicament we faced, relinquished their positions in order to let us become a public hospital and receive the higher reimbursement rates that go with that.

HCBN: How strong is the competition in your area of the country for hiring top medical professionals?
It’s strong nationwide, but with rural areas, it comes with a whole new group of issues. For instance, most physicians come with spouses and not everyone wants to be in a rural area. You have to find the right provider that wants to live in a small town.

HCBN: What are the biggest challenges facing your facility?
It’s reimbursement. I’ve had conversations with hospitals all over the country and it’s reimbursement. Definitely with labor as well, but most of the time if you get someone in a rural area, they appreciate it for what it is. I’ve been lucky to have a loyal, dedicated staff.

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