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Standalone Hospitals in the M&A Era: 3 CFOs to Watch

Analysis  |  By Jim Molpus  
   December 06, 2019

Finance leaders at three independent hospitals in Illinois, New York, and California discuss the opportunities and challenges of operating as a standalone institution.

The era of provider consolidation isn’t going to end anytime soon, as health systems look to gain greater geographic reach and spread risk. But becoming a small cog in a regional system may not be the right choice for every independent or community hospital.

Why? Some independent hospitals may have a community role which they fell would be diluted in consolidation. Others may have a solid clinical and financial position as is and aren’t liking the suitors that are at their door. Still others may just have a vision that consolidation is not the answer, period.

HealthLeaders is committed to telling the story of standalone hospitals that choose to stay that way. In the past few months, HealthLeaders Finance Editor Jack O’ Brien has featured three CFOs with unique challenges and strategies as they look to keep their missions going:

1. New Illinois CFO Talks Rural Hospital Strategy, Clinical Partnerships

The healthcare industry is still in the swing of a rapid embrace toward consolidation, impacting stand-alone hospitals that either join larger health systems or fold due to financial pressures. 

In April, Mary Lou Tate took over as CFO of Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers in Morris, Illinois. Tate had most recently served as director of finance at Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) St. Elizabeth in Belleville, Illinois.

Tate spoke to HealthLeaders about her experiences on both the clinical and financial sides of health systems, as well as giving advice for how smaller hospitals can survive in today's financial landscape.


2. Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center CFO on Remaining Independent

Mark Wright, a lifelong native of upstate New York, was named chief financial officer of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC) in Niagara Falls, New York.

Wright previously served as the CFO of Oneonta-based A.O. Fox Hospital, part of Bassett Healthcare Network, in addition to executive roles at Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Peekskill and St. Joseph's Hospital in Elmira.

Wright spoke with HealthLeaders about finding ways to remain operational as an independent community hospital and facing the challenges of a reeling economy in upstate New York with a high Medicaid population.


3. MarinHealth CFO on Capitation Practices for a Rural Patient Population

Eric Brettner is a West Coast healthcare veteran, having worked in finance roles at both HCA Healthcare and Dignity Health over the past two decades. 

From 2011 to 2017, Brettner served as a regional chief financial officer (CFO) for Dignity, covering the Bay Area, before joining PeaceHealth as a regional CFO.

At that system, Brettner covered a territory from Bellingham, Washington to Alaska, accounting for one large hospital and three critical access hospitals. In September, he was named CFO at MarinHealth. 

Brettner spoke with HealthLeaders about returning to the California healthcare market and making the transition from working in a large health system to leading a stand-alone facility.

The CFO Exchange is one of six healthcare thought-leadership and networking events that HealthLeaders holds annually. While the events are invitation-only, qualified healthcare executives, senior-level and above, will be considered.

To inquire about the HealthLeaders Exchange program, email us at

Jim Molpus is the director of the HealthLeaders Exchange.

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