Succeeding in the health care management industry is no small task. Complex and constantly changing health care regulations from federal, state and local regulatory agencies intended to ensure safe and quality care actually can have a reverse effect — regulatory compliance often takes time away from patient care.
“It’s a challenging environment to operate in,” says Providence Healthcare Management founder and CEO Eli Gunzburg. “Our industry has completely transformed.”
Health care is one of the top three most regulated industries in the country along with finance and nuclear. “Sometimes the intent of those regulations is good but they don’t quite hit it on the head,” says Gunzburg, a Case Western Reserve University alum who founded Providence Healthcare Management in 2008.
Today, Providence Healthcare provides consulting services to 31 health care facilities in Ohio and Kentucky with each facility managed by an on-site team. “We grew very fast over the past 10 years but we’re becoming a little bit more selective,” says Gunzburg. “We’re now rebuilding our foundation with a team of consummate professionals who are here for the greater good.”
Providence Healthcare found its second wind after rapid expansion that also brought along some growing pains. “We have historically taken over some troubled facilities,” said Gunzburg. “Some of those buildings had a stigma attached to them. To make them work, we imbue our culture.”
That culture is based on 29 defining fundamentals, many of which emphasize a humanistic approach toward both residents and care staff. Those fundamentals include blameless problem-solving, listening generously, leaving your ego at the door, embracing change and growth, being a lifelong learner and having fun.
“This is about humans caring for humans,” says Gunzburg. “We all should have a mutual level of respect for one another. That’s something that meets the needs of every single team member and resident.”
In an industry with an employee turnover rate exceeding 50%, hiring and retaining the right staff is crucial. “The thing I’m most passionate about is reducing that turnover,” says Gunzburg. “We’re looking to have a substantial impact on that through our cultural roadmap.”
Taking a genuine interest in each resident is one of the firm’s most important fundamentals. “Understanding their world and seeing that world from their perspective is very important,” says Aaron Fox, the firm’s financial operations specialist. “We want each resident to have an individualized experience.”
“We’re interacting with people who are in a vulnerable state,” says Gunzburg. “We’re not moving heaven and earth … but we are listening to them.”
“Our direct care staff has the most impact on our residents and they treat those residents like family members,” adds Fox.
One of the more famous patients at Providence Healthcare Management’s Stanford, Ky., facility was Helen Van Winkle, also known as Baddie Winkle (@baddiewinkle). The 90-year-old is a social media sensation with 3.8 million Instagram followers, 2.5 million Facebook friends and 500,000 Twitter followers. Van Winkle, who models for clothing companies, spent three weeks in rehab in Stanford following hip replacement surgery.
“They had the best rehab staff,” says Van Winkle. “They started me out slow but they put me through it every day. They had everything to do with my recovery.”
Van Winkle, whose fame began when her great-granddaughter posted a photo of her online four years ago, was impressed by not only the physical therapy that led to her quick recovery but the level of personal attention she received from the staff. “I never got bored … we were joking all the time. I interacted with a lot of the other patients in rehab.”
Despite those historically high turnover rates in the industry, Gunzburg is well aware that quality health care is dependent on compassionate, well-trained staff that often spend long hours away from their own families. “The people who are working for us are extremely passionate about what they do. They are the ones that drive our organization.”
While Providence Healthcare Management’s growth is a testament to the firm’s core fundamentals, an ever-changing health care environment will continue to pose challenges in what figures to be a highly scrutinized industry for years to come.
“The market continues to change on a yearly basis,” says Gunzburg. “There have been nursing shortages, people shortages and more recently, a push toward home health care. We are looking to continue to be the employer of choice in the markets we serve.”