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Broward Health Medical Center CFO Discusses Meeting Patient Needs

By Jack O'Brien  
   September 06, 2018

Paul Schwarzkopf talks about moving from Tenet to Broward Health, along with assisting a diverse patient population in south Florida.

As a 37-year veteran of the healthcare industry, Paul Schwarzkopf has seen how hospitals and health system leaders have adapted to changing financial and operational circumstances throughout the years.  

In February, Schwarzkopf took over as CFO of Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after previously working at Tenet Healthcare Corporation, where he served as senior director of regional finance for its coastal division in Florida.

At Tenet, Schwarzkopf was part of a team that expanded its operations not only in Florida, but added facilities in both South Carolina and Massachusetts. He told HealthLeaders that this role allowed him to interface with other hospital CFOs on a daily basis, providing a significant level of insight into the challenges for hospitals today.

The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

HL: How have your first six months at Broward been, and what has been the biggest lesson you've learned thus far?

Schwarzkopf: I've been around Florida for a long time, and I have known a number of people who have worked at this facility and have always spoken very highly of the operation here. While I'm new to this role, I've been in the industry over 30 years, most recently with Tenet Healthcare Corporation, but this place has an amazing group of people who do wonderful things to provide quality healthcare to our patients. The physicians and staff work together as a team and are truly committed to patient care, and I think it's just an overall great place to work.

HL: What are the most unique aspects to the south Florida market in terms of challenges and opportunities for your facility?

Schwarzkopf: South Florida has a diverse population: You have the homeless segment, a large Medicaid segment, [and] a large Medicare segment. Those particular groups have different needs at the various stages of their lives. A Medicare patient doesn't necessarily need the same thing as a 20-year-old Medicaid patient. That's why we have a general [medical-surgical] operation, this place is more than just a surgical operation. Our basic business is to take care of all aspects of the population.

HL: Have there been strategies that you've implemented in other systems that you've worked for previously that you're looking to bring to Broward or that you have put into place in these first six months?

Schwarzkopf: One of the things that we need to look for are the avenues to help people get assistance, because there are people out there that don't know the benefits of Medicaid and don't know what they're eligible for. We have a specific department at the hospital where the staff has been educated into qualifying people for various public sources of funding. And we work with the patients. We try to get them qualified and have been successful in doing this. Not everybody qualifies for additional funding, but for those who can, we make sure that we give them access and help them in the process of getting covered. [Coverage is] not only for us but also for [patients'] future needs, for them to go to the doctor or go to an ER and have coverage.

Related: Broward Health Board Offers CEO Job to Indicted Interim Leader

HL: What are some immediate goals that you'd like to see Broward meet?

Schwarzkopf: We have a strategic plan that we have developed and will adhere to for the next year or two. We have a capital plan for the facility that extends out five years and includes capital acquisitions that we feel are necessary to meet community needs. This is a large facility, about 1.2 million square feet, so we need to maintain the integrity and the appearance of the operation also.

HL: Are there any capital projects that will come to completion within the next year or two?

Schwarzkopf: In 2014, this particular hospital designated $52 million for the renovation of the Salah Foundation Children's Hospital. What that encompasses was the renovation and restructuring the entire children's hospital, so we are on year four and that will be completed in the third quarter of fiscal year 2019. We are just about to open the first phase of our newly developed NICU and then we will move on to the last phase of it, which we're hoping to have completed by November 2019.

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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