To ensure continuity during transition years, LBJ set to hire local C.O.O


Top LBJ management officials are ending their contracts this year and for continuity a new two-year temporary chief operating officer position has been created.

This was revealed by LBJ chief executive officer Mike Gerstenberger in last week’s budget hearings, where he and chief financial officer Viola Babcock fielded several questions from lawmakers in a hearing that lasted for more than an hour.

At the beginning of the budget hearing, Gerstenberger explained that the FY 2013 budget proposal is close to $40 million and the largest single hike of $1.6 million in the new fiscal year is funding allocation for the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) which was migrated back into LBJ in January this year from the Department of Public Safety.


Gerstenberger told lawmakers that the FY 2013 budget does not have any new permanent positions, but includes three temporary new positions. “Because this is a transition year for the hospital as well as for the ASG government. My contract ends this year, the CFO’s contract ends this year, and there will be a new chief of medical staff this year,” he pointed out.

“So we’re having the same leadership transition as the rest of the government is. To make sure there is continuity, we have created a new two-year temporary chief operating officer position, which will essentially be a number two position to the CEO and we anticipate filling that with a long term hospital employee, who’s familiar with the island and the hospital operation, so we’ll have continuity during those leadership changes,” he said.


Gerstenberger also revealed that there are two new programs included in the FY 2013 budget and one of them is the Care Management Program.

“This really is a much needed…new initiative on the island,” he said. “As you know, we’ve long talked about the epidemic of non communicable disease" he's said, adding, " It's getting worse, it's not getting better.”

“And we’ve seen large problems with non compliance of patients — patients don’t get their medication, their prescriptions filled — they don’t make their clinic appointments, they don’t get their laboratory testing,” he said. “We know who those people are. We have the unfilled prescriptions in the computer, we have the schedules for the clinics for people that make their appointments. We have not done anything with that information in the past.

“We are setting up this year a separate department that will follow up on each and every one of those cases. So if you fail to get your prescription filled, a nurse or doctor will call you and inquire why.

“And if we need to, we will come to your house and help you understand why you need to be taking that medication or getting that lab work done. We feel, we’ve got to make some dramatic intervention on the island in order to turn those numbers around, because they’re all moving in the wrong direction.”

He added that he personally thinks this program “could very well be a game changer for the health status of the folks on this island.”

The LBJ CEO said there are a lot of reasons why patients don’t fully comply with what they need to do. For example, sometimes it's financial issues — the person cannot afford to get all the required prescriptions filled. Sometimes, it's a transportation problem, and sometimes there is no one to care for a child when the visit to the doctor is required.

“...but none of those [problems] should be unsolvable” and this new program will assist patients, Gerstenberger said.


The second program, which started in May is the Hyperbaric Oxygen Wound Care program, through the hyperbaric chamber, donated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said Gerstenberger.

He said the hospital now has two physicians and two registered nurses — all certified in hyperbaric medicine. “So we are up and ready to go. We have yet to find the first patient who meets the criteria for the therapy but we are ready and when we find those patients, we now have the tools and the smarts to be able to address them,” he added.


“Also this is an important year for us in terms of information systems” Gerstenberger said and pointed out that LBJ is aware of the usefulness of an incentive program that the federal government has been offering as part of the Obamacare plan in which the territory “could receive up to $5 million in incentive money for demonstrating what they consider meaningful use of electronic medical records.”

“In order to do that, we need to purchase a new medical record [computer] system” because the current system is not a certified system and does not qualify for the incentive program,” he said.

“So we will need to select, install, and bring up trainers that have electronic medical records system this year. That requires lots of leadership and expertise in the Information system department that we do not currently have in our information system department.”

So in the new fiscal year budget, the medical center has two temporary two-year contract positions of off island staff to bring here “to train our staff, to train our information service staff and our clinical staff on the use of the new electronic medical record system,” he said.


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