Editor’s note: Last week, Palmetto Health completed its 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment. The hospital system conducted one-on-one interviews and met with focus groups to identify the top health issues locally. The three biggest concerns identified were access to care, overweight/obesity and high blood pressure.
After the report’s release, The State newspaper submitted several questions to Charles D. Beaman, the chief executive officer of Palmetto Health. The questions and answers were provided via email.
Beaman, who recently completed his 43rd year in health care in the Midlands, has been the health system’s CEO since 2007. He was president of Baptist Healthcare System of South Carolina when that organization merged with Richland Memorial Hospital to form Palmetto Health in 1998.
Q: How will the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment released last week guide Palmetto Health?
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A: We are proud to be able to take the lead on this important work. When we surveyed the residents of the Midlands region, including Richland, Lexington and Sumter counties, we found there were some commonalities, including concerns about people being able to access the care they needed as well as receive care for specific diseases, including obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Helping to address these health issues is a priority for Palmetto Health.
As the region’s leading health care provider with the most comprehensive network of specialties, physicians and other health professionals, Palmetto Health is using the learning from the assessment to help address those concerns. As part of our efforts, we are also helping people in the community access the care they need – whether that is in their doctor’s office, at an urgent care facility or in a hospital emergency department. Our focus is improving the community’s overall health. To do this effectively, we know we will need to continue to leverage our strong partnerships with the USC School of Medicine, other health care providers and community and governmental organizations.
Q: How has the merger of Tuomey Regional Medical Center impacted Palmetto Health?
A: Palmetto Health Tuomey joining our health care system has been a great fit. We are learning from Tuomey team members and they are learning from others across Palmetto Health. We already have seen how this addition has been beneficial for the citizens in and around Sumter, through improved access to subspecialist physicians and better coordinated health care. As a system, we also will be able to use our collective purchasing power to better manage health care costs.
Palmetto Health has been privileged to be a part of the Sumter community for the past 10 months. There are many other benefits to come for Sumter-area residents, including emergency department and other hospital facility improvements, as well as access to new providers and specialties. A recent example is our newly opened cardiology practices in Sumter, Palmetto Heart and USC Pediatric Cardiology, which are part of the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group.
Q: Do you foresee Palmetto Health acquiring any other hospitals? What factors would guide those decisions?
We don’t have any immediate plans to add another hospital to our system. We will always ask the questions, “Is there an opportunity for Palmetto Health to improve the overall health of a community?” and “Does it make financial sense?” We also believe there is great power in assisting other hospitals through partnerships or affiliations.
Q: Palmetto Health was formed in 1998. Are you surprised to be the chief executive officer 18 years later?
A: I consider it a privilege to be in this role. I am blessed to have spent my life in service to others. I’m proud that my experience has led me to this point, and that I’m part of something so meaningful that has such a substantial impact on our community. I’m honored to continue to have a role to play in improving the health of our community.
Q: In just three or four paragraphs, can you summarize what changes, if any, should be made to the federal Affordable Care Act?
The cost of health care is going up at a rapid rate and it is not sustainable in its current configuration. There has to be something done to help change it, which was part of the overall Affordable Care Act (ACA) goal. Like any legislation, ACA has some positives and negatives, but finding a way to provide coverage for more Americans is key. ACA has impacted that in a positive way.
As we continue to look for solutions like ACA or other legislation, I hope there will be more focus on the “Triple Aim,” which includes improving a person’s health care experience and the quality of the care they receive, reducing their health care costs, and making health care more accessible. The ACA makes a lot of sense, but it hasn’t been able to address all of these important needs.
Q: What have been the three biggest changes in health care since you started at S.C. Baptist Hospitals in 1973?
There have been so many changes in health care over the years and they have been dramatic. The things that stand out to me are:
Growth in technology has been explosive. It’s interesting to watch how patients are benefiting from this higher level of technology. The digital age and the connectivity of important data are significantly changing how patients are cared for.
The financing of health care – going from being paid on a cost-plus, volume-based, fee-for-service basis to being paid on a value-based model where health care systems take on financial risk for managing and improving the health of designated patient populations.
Supply and demand of nurses and other clinical professionals. Our search for professionals has gone from local to national. There are national shortages of qualified people for these positions, and the responsibilities of these professionals have increased as changes in health care have occurred.
There has been a positive change in the role of physicians. They have gone from being care providers to physician partners with their patients. They also now play a key role in the administration of our health care system. It has been exciting to watch this develop.
Q: What else is really important to note?
Palmetto Health is financially strong and has a governance structure that is well connected to the community. This translates to superior leadership for more than 14,000 team members, physicians and volunteers. We are proud of our extensive medical staff, including the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, which is clinically strong and serves as the “front door” to the Palmetto Health system and the full continuum of care we provide.
Palmetto Health is unique in the industry through our yearly tithing of 10 percent of our annual bottom line to the community through local health programs and services. We’ve honored this commitment since the founding of Palmetto Health, and it’s a reflection of our commitment to serve our community.
I personally wouldn’t go anywhere else to receive care. I am most proud that we believe that every person deserves high-quality health care, and that each person who works with me at Palmetto Health strives to live our vision: To be remembered by each patient as providing the care and compassion we want for our families and ourselves.
About Charles D. Beaman
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, University of South Carolina; master’s degree in hospital administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Honors and associations: South Carolina Hospital Association’s Distinguished Service Award, 2004; American College of Healthcare Executives Regent’s Senior Level Healthcare Executive award, 2013; member, HomeWorks of America Inc. Columbia community advisory board; Midlands Business Leaders board; South State Bank advisory board.
Family: Wife, Joni Lynn Rader; two adult children, William Blake and Ashley Lynn.
About Palmetto Health
Founded: 1998 with the merger of Richland Memorial Hospital and Baptist Healthcare System.
Employees: More than 13,000
Acute-care hospitals: Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital, Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Tuomey. In the Upstate, Palmetto Health also co-owns Baptist Easley Hospital.