Category: Leadership Strategy
Rebirth of a Community Pillar After Change From For-profit to Nonprofit Status
After 19 years as a for-profit hospital, Bergen Regional Medical Center of Paramus, New Jersey entered a new era as a nonprofit focused on strengthening quality, employee engagement, and community ties. It was renamed New Bridge Medical Center and is now managed by Care Plus Bergen. New Bridge Medical Center, which has 1,070 beds, serves as a safety-net facility, providing critical access to acute and ambulatory care, as well as niche services such as long-term care, behavioral healthcare, and substance abuse treatment.
In October 2017, Deborah Visconi became New Bridge Medical Center's first president and CEO. Visconi was ready to lead the rebirth of the 102-year-old medical center. She brought with her 25 years of experience in healthcare and a successful run as director of operations at Morristown Medical Center, where she was instrumental in helping improve operating margin by 2%, reduce cost per adjusted patient day by 10%, and save $3 million in supply chain costs.
(Deborah Visconi, President and CEO, New Bridge Medical Center. Photo courtesy of New Bridge Medical Center.)
Visconi had a strong vision for how she would transition New Bridge Medical Center—the largest hospital in the state and the fourth largest public hospital in the United States—into a destination hospital for Bergen County. Visconi and her team started with an ambitious strategic plan to improve clinical operations and employee morale, hire new leaders in key roles, upgrade IT, and create impactful community programs.
Visconi also took three critical steps.
Step 1: Visconi and the leadership team evaluated everything from personnel and clinical operations to infrastructure needs.
Step 2: Visconi held town hall meetings and monthly informal meeting sessions called ‘Dine with Deb' to engage staff and gain a clearer understanding of the culture. An employee appreciation committee was also established to enhance staff recognition and appreciation activities.
Step 3: Leadership introduced a new internal/external communications plan that included developing an employee intranet, offering all staff email accounts (a first in the history of the medical center), and creating a strong social media presence to engage staff, patients, and the broader community.
The medical center, a clinical affiliate of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, also increased clinical staff to appropriate levels, and Visconi hired senior leaders to oversee Lean management training, IT modernization projects, and quality improvements. Further, New Bridge Medical Center, which has 84 medical detox beds and is the largest provider of the service in Bergen County, began making enhancements to behavioral health and addiction services. Visconi was tireless in her efforts to speak to local and state officials regarding the essential support of opioid programs and education. She also brought NARCAN training programs to the community through New Bridge Medical Center.
Reinforcing vital community relationships has been a crucial part of Visconi's vision for New Bridge Medical Center. The medical center now holds monthly community events, and Visconi and her team frequently attend and support community healthcare activities. The medical center also increased care access for local veterans and is now a participating provider in the Veterans Choice Program. Under Visconi's leadership, New Bridge Medical Center held its first veteran's recruitment fair, hiring a dozen veterans on the spot.
In just six months, Visconi's efforts have reduced the recidivism rate in behavioral health short-term care facility units by 50% and reduced AMA (leaving a voluntary unit against medical advice) rates for addiction services by 16%. Further, 24 new physicians were added from Rutgers Medical School to essential specialty areas in ambulatory care. Lean methodologies deployed in the emergency department improved bed management efficiency, thus eliminating ED diversions. The medical center has also improved care access through new managed care contracts.
While it is still early going, Visconi continues to lay the essential groundwork for New Bridge Medical Center's transformation, says Donnalee Corrieri, MHA, vice president of marketing and public relations. "Ms. Visconi has created a transparent and engaged environment to reenergize her workforce and obtain positive employee and community relations attention, while maintaining a fiscally responsible operation within budgetary parameters. She has infused the 102-year-old facility with new life, passion, forward-thinking staff, and new technology," says Corrieri. "There is now an increased focus on quality with a dedication to transformation and innovation every day."