Shane Strum shares how his past experience in public service shapes how he appreciates healthcare, current pain points, and what 2022 holds for the health system.
Shane Strum joined Broward Health in March 2021, taking over as CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based health system during the coronavirus pandemic. During his first seven months, he would have to juggle the Delta variant, staffing shortages, vaccine and mask mandates, and so much more.
His leadership appointment followed several years of abrupt resignations and C-suite turmoil for the organization. Gino Santorio, who previously served as CEO, announced his resignation in November 2020, kicking off the executive search that landed Strum back into the healthcare sector after working in public service.
Most recently, Strum served as chief of staff for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Prior to working for the state government, he served as senior vice president of Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Florida.
During a recent interview with HealthLeaders, Strum shared how his experience in public service shapes how he appreciates healthcare, what his first seven months as CEO have looked like, current pain points, and what 2022 holds for the health system.
The transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
HealthLeaders: You most recently served as chief of staff for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. How has that experience shaped how you think about healthcare in general?
Shane Strum: I was in healthcare prior, then I became the chief of staff to Gov. DeSantis, and it gave me a whole new view of how things work. It makes you think so differently on how to tackle some of the big issues.
The hospital I was at previously always did a wonderful job. We were the boots on the ground; we served our community. But what we don't realize is how government is more connected to healthcare than ever before.
It gives you a better understanding of who can influence the type of appropriate research and funding dollars that are necessary to make sure that we have that next generation approach.
It shows that it's more of a partnership than the public ever realized. It helped open my eyes and gave me a real opportunity to meet a lot of CEOs across the state of Florida.
HL: What was your experience stepping into your role this past March and leading during the late-summer patient surge?
Strum: I had to run parallel tracks. CEOs at the hospitals and our chief operating officer had to roll up their sleeves and be out there on the floor. The doctors were working longer hours than ever before, the nurses were providing more critical care than ever before. Nurses have a tough role; they were trying to keep that line of communication open with the staff, the administration, the families, and the patient.
At the same time, we saw more people coming back for all sorts of cases that they postponed, especially in oncology. So, we were managing everyone coming back who missed out on the services, and then we had all the COVID patients that were coming in and filling a lot of the other beds.
HL: What current pain points is the health system facing and what strategies are you implementing to address those?
Strum: The biggest pain point would be labor; it's unbelievable right now. We still have a tremendous number of per diem and travelers. Their average hourly rate is about $155 to $160, so that is costing a tremendous amount of money. We also are paying the nurses a shift differential, so there's an extra $1,200 after the three days. Then there's a bonus. Our expenses are through the roof and there's no way to back that down immediately because a lot of these are another six-to-eight-week contracts for the travelers.
Broward Health and Memorial just did a run on the numbers to see how many of these nurse travelers live in the county: 43% of them are jumping from our hospital to other hospitals because they're being paid so much more.
The other issue that we're seeing is a lot of that institutional knowledge and history is being lost. The nurses and doctors who are here and were already on a career path to wind down, they stayed because we needed them. A lot of them had already planned retirements, so now that we've come out of the Delta variant, it's time for them to start to get ready to wind it down.
In the last couple of months, we have hired 286 nurses. One of the issues of bringing on a lot of newer nurses is they don't have as much clinical experience. A lot of hospitals would put them immediately on the floor. We're very cautious about that. We believe in training and also time with another clinician and mentoring. So, we've actually gone to the extraordinary measures of putting them into an additional training of 12 to 16 more weeks. We want them to ease into it and make no mistakes.
HL: What will be your main focus points in 2022 and how will you address those?
Strum: I would say innovation, data, and real estate.
We want to be as innovative as possible. We're even open to disruption, because the industry is going through a lot of changes right now because of COVID. We're looking hard to peel back all the layers on how we can do things differently. What does the future hospital of tomorrow look like? How does Broward Health make sure that they're not left behind? What type of partnerships are available? What are the service lines that we should really be focused on that benefit this community? Are we hiring the best folks that are out there?
On the real estate side, this hospital has done a good job for many years of, when possible, trying to acquire property around all the other hospitals that we own, so we can grow our footprint. Broward Health Medical Center has a large footprint, but we have recently acquired more property, which will allow us to create a more effective and more efficient model. The outpatient model is something that's becoming so much bigger, so how do we look at the outpatient model? How do we look at making sure we have the right rehab within our own system to take care of the level one traumas that we get as a level one trauma institute?
We've also collected so much information over this period that we want to try to figure out how to utilize it. We have a tremendous amount of dashboards, and we can live off data, but how do we understand all the data that's been presented to us, and then what do we do with that data?
“We want to be as innovative as possible … We're looking hard to peel back all the layers on how we can do things differently.”
— Shane Strum, president and CEO, Broward Health
Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Photo credit: FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA, USA: Covid 19 Heros recognition sign for first responders located at the entrance to Broward Health Medical Hospital as seen on July 3, 2020. / Editorial credit: Jillian Cain Photography / Shutterstock.com