Lee came to OKMH in January of 2011 as chief financial officer (CFO) and was promoted to interim CEO in November of this year, after the departure of the previous CEO. On April 30, the board of directors officially approved Lee as CEO.
With his new position of leadership at the hospital, Lee is looking to meet the great challenges and changes the hospital faces as Karnes County continues to experience much increase in population, traffic, and commerce.
“Because our volumes have gotten so high with all the Eagle Ford Shale activity here, and all the influx of people into the community, our volumes now are higher than they’ve ever been,” said Lee.
Lee said that the ER (emergency room) service is the greatest challenge facing the hospital due to the greater number of patients needing attention. Two years ago the OKMH ER was seeing on average 500 patients a month; now the ER sees about 800 patents a month, with the number at times as high as 1,000.
“I would say the biggest challenge is in the ER,” explained Lee. “When your ER is busy, the whole hospital is busy, because that feeds the other departments. The volume in the ER and level of trauma-type cases we’re seeing in there are a lot harder to deal with than what would have been normal in the past here.”
“Some of our challenges are not unique to our facility. There are challenges to hospitals in general, particularly rural facilities like ours. You’ve got the Medicare and Medicaid cuts, and all the changes going on in healthcare. Some of that can be a challenge, especially from the perspective of a rural facility.”
Lee says that the leadership of the hospital is considering and contemplating various options in regards to facility expansion, in order to provide greater capacity for service to the growing communities of Karnes County. Though no definite plans are at present, options and considerations are being put forth.
“The board wanted to take a look at what the possibilities were for expansion,” he said. “We’re still weighing our options. We’re still in that process. We’re working with an architect that has done lots of things in the history of this facility, so they know this facility very well.”
Working as a team and trusting in the decades of integrity and experience of the hospital’s faculty and staff are the ingredients to maintaining and continuing the quality healthcare service Kaiser Memorial provides, according to Lee.
“We have good people here; we have good leadership throughout the hospital,” reflected Lee. “We’ve got a lot of people that have been here lots and lots of years. The leadership that we have and the years of service that a lot of our leaders have been here is a tribute to the hospital and how good of a place it is to work, and how good of a facility it is.”